Brian ErniThis week, Andrei Kirilenko made waves by openly criticizing Jason Kidd for bolting to Milwaukee, as well as his seemingly-flightiness with rotations and playing time. But AK47 told Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York that he didn’t mean for his comments to be construed in that way.
“It sounds in the [SovSport] article like I have a negativity [in regards to Kidd leaving], but that’s completely untrue,” Kirilenko told Mazzeo. “We’ve been discussing why it happened — because I don’t know why it happened — but we’re just speculating. We don’t know what the real reason is from Jason’s point-of-view.”
“It’s tough to kind of judge him because he obviously came into a lot of pressure,” Kirilenko continued. “New York is a city with a lot of legends and a lot of history, and every move you make is under a microscope. So I guess it’s easier for the coach to start [fresh] with a younger group of guys, with his own vision, in a smaller city where you don’t have that much pressure. And I think that’s what Jason’s doing now.”
That’s all well and good, but there’s no reason for Kirilenko to come off his public criticism of Kidd. Kirilenko obviously wasn’t a big Kidd fan. Between the “Kiddin’ like Jason” Instagram post to some less-than-glowing remarks to The Brooklyn Game back in January, it seems like there was a riff there. So while Kirilenko probably doesn’t want bad blood between him and Kidd, it’s not necessary that he clarify these comments. In fact, I wish he hadn’t.
From a player’s view, I can see why you’d want to lash out at Kidd. A year ago, he came back as the prodigal son, got his number retired, bought an ownership stake, the whole nine yards. Less than 12 months later, it was fleshed out as a mirage. It wasn’t about the organization that he took to back-to-back Finals, or the players that helped cultivate his rookie season into a successful one. The same players that didn’t quit on him when they easily could have packed it in after a beleaguered November and December. Instead, he made a powerplay steeped in ego, one that — nearly a month later — still seems both equal parts amusing and surreal. So I don’t blame a guy who took less money to play for the Nets coming out and asking a simple, “Why?”
If Kidd wants to act like he’s as accomplished as someone like Phil Jackson or Gregg Popovich, then he can take the criticism that comes with that greatness. Especially from a veteran who seems to feel like he never knew what his role was in a season that flamed out in the second round. Kirilenko is entitled to his opinion, primarily — in my eyes — because it’s a valid one. Maybe Kidd would just rather be a big fish in a small pond. So AK, stick to your guns. Because Nets fans are squarely behind you.