It’s sort of hard to watch the Bucks and not constantly think, Well, they certainly made the wrong choice, didn’t they?
You all know the story. On June 29, 2014, Jason Kidd, then head coach of the Nets, lost a power struggle between himself and Billy King, and the Russians sent him packing to Milwaukee to coach the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd was a laughingstock. The Nets were better off without him. He was an egotistical nutjob, and Lionel Hollins would be better for the team in the future. Really, really, really smart people said that Kidd was a bad dude for what he did.
Yeah, that’s not really the case, is it?
For all the grief Kidd got while he was here — about looking lost on the sidelines, about being a coach in spirit, about spilled Coke — that’s all changed after a half of a season in Milwaukee. Part of the joy for Nets fans when Kidd left was that he was being banished to basketball purgatory. The Bucks were supposed to be terrible. Heck, the team might even move! He left the bright lights for the midwest?
Instead, Kidd is a Coach of the Year candidate for how he’s handled this team. Jabari Parker is out for the year. Larry Sanders has fallen off the deep end. His team is made up of Brandon Knight, O.J. Mayo, and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jared Dudley and Khris Middleton play significant minutes for the Bucks. Yet they’re competitive every night, beating good teams (like the Raptors on Feb. 2) and not-so-good teams (like the Nets Monday night).
Kidd’s creativity was on full display. Antetokounmpo is outstanding, a triple-double machine, like his coach once was. The team hits their threes, and they never gave up despite being down 17. They are young, quick, and versatile. They pass well. These are all traits that Kidd promised when he first took the Nets job, and it’s how the team played after that season-turning game in Oklahoma City a year ago.
On the other side of the ball, the Nets did give up. Down six with under 30 seconds left, instead of fouling, they stood around on defense and let O.J. Mayo sink the dagger shot. Jarrett Jack staged a single-manned comeback, but how much can one man do?
On June 29, Kidd lost a power play because the Nets made a decision. The former coach walked into the front offices and demanded more. He said: “Me or Billy King. Who’s it gonna be?” They picked King.
Kidd was out. Now, Kidd is good coach with a bad roster. He’s good enough to take them places, and he may be the Bucks coach for a long time. The Nets had that guy, and now he is gone.
Who knows — maybe it would have never worked out with Kidd. Maybe he saw the roster coming down the pipeline and decided he was out no matter what. Maybe this Bucks deal was in the works longer than all of us thought.
But if it really came down to a June 29 meeting, and the Nets decided they were keeping King over Kidd, I now think that was a huge mistake.