I’ve alluded to it a couple times throughout the year in this column, but I was not a fan of watching this Nets team in their inaugural season in Brooklyn. They were assembled so hastily and haphazardly, they played a fairly unexciting brand of basketball, and minus one or two guys, they were an absolutely terrible fit attitude and personality-wise for the borough that they suddenly called home. It didn’t take too many games’ worth of Joe Johnson step-back jumpers, Brook Lopez set shots and quickly infuriating “BROOOK-LYYYYYYN” home chants for me to realize that this just wasn’t going to be a team that I was going to root for.
And the thing that really had to bum you out about watching the Nets — besides the fact that they paid over $70 mil this year alone for a starting lineup and still lost in the first round of the playoffs to a Bulls team whose bus probably drove everyone straight to the ICU after Game 7 — was that it didn’t seem like this roster was going to be materially different in years to come. Mikhail Prokhorov had bought his playoff team, but the price he paid was so steep that not only would it be impossible to pay for more guys, the guys he signed on are owed too much to ever get rid of. A minor tweak here and there, perhaps, but for the most part, this was gonna be the Nets’ team, and if you didn’t like the guys, too bad, because they weren’t getting new ones anytime soon.
Well, the offseason hasn’t even officially started, and the Nets have already made a big-name acquisition that would seem to assuage such worries. They’re signing a first-ballot future Hall of Famer, a respected guy in the clubhouse, and a guy whose teams have won more after his arrival pretty much everywhere he’s gone. What’s more, he’s a baller who’s played a pivotal role in previous franchise history — as much as the Brooklyn Nets have previous franchise history, anyway — and one who Nets fans still talk about with unparalleled reverence, one whose jersey will undoubtedly hang in the Barclays Center rafters before long.
The guy, of course, is legendary point guard Jason Kidd, undoubtedly to be the most-discussed, most-anticipated addition to the Nets franchise. Except he wasn’t signed as a free agent — he was signed as the team’s head coach.
My sense of history isn’t perfect on this one, but I’m pretty sure you’d have to go back to the days of player-coaches like Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens to find a guy with such a short turnaround between his playing and coaching careers as Kidd has here. As recently as May 18 — less than a month ago — Jason Kidd was still an active player, firing blanks for the New York Knicks in the second round of the playoffs, giving every indication that he’d continue to do so for the remainder of his contract. (The contract still had two years left on it, by the way.) But in the period of a week in early June, Jason Kidd had announced his retirement, declared his intent to coach (for the Nets in particular) and lapped front-running candidates like Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins for the open vacancy. Then on Wednesday, Kidd was officially announced as the team’s new coach, to the continued mind-blowing of basketball fans around the league.
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