Brian ErniWhether it’s craft beer, beards, or kale in an ice cream cone, Brooklyn is known for turning some questionable ideas into trends in this city. That extended to sports last summer, when Billy King chose Jason Kidd to succeed P.J. Carlesimo. And now, you don’t have to look far to see the impact of that hiring. Just peer across the bridge and look to 4 Pennsylvania Plaza.
Roughly a year ago, when the Nets took Kidd straight from the Knicks roster to the head coaching position of the more buzz-worthy team of the NBA’s offseason, it seemed ludicrous. Many thought Kidd wouldn’t make the transition, and for a month or two, it appeared as though his detractors many have been right. But after a great second half run, a playoff series win, and a team of players who reveled playing for the former All Star, the experiment has panned out. And with the Knicks seemingly focusing their efforts on Derek Fisher, who is a week into retirement, and Jerry Stackhouse a possible assistant coaching candidate, it looks like Brooklyn may have been on the percipience of the next great coaching trend.
Last August, I lauded the Nets for that. How often do we see teams try to copy cat a good idea? Once Mark Jackson found success, young coaches were all the rage. It wasn’t until Kidd was hired and proven to be a smart choice that just-retired NBA players became the next frontier of coaching. But Brooklyn seems to be ahead of the curve on this one. They not only got the first guy to make that perilous jump, but they tabbed the right guy. The type of leader who isn’t deterred by some failure, knowing there’s a good chance it will lead to future success, who had a plan coming in, and who stuck to his guns and stayed the course. It was a maturation process at lightning speed, one that may allow Kidd to sustain job security as head coach of this franchise longer than anyone since Lawrence Frank. That, though, is not assured of every ex-player to come later.
It will be (incorrectly) assumed that anyone can simply do what Kidd. That any player who is revered during his playing days can simply put on a suit and lead a team. With all due respect to Fisher, there’s about the same precedent that will assure his success as there was when the Nets introduced Kidd. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, because every person is different, and every roster is different.
Fisher will most likely get his chance to see if lightning can strike twice in New York, and he has Kidd to thank. Because had the Nets crashed and burned this season after their abysmal start, the idea of Fisher may not have even been a glimmer in the Zen Master’s eye. For now, it seems imitation will act as the most sincere form of flatter. And from where the Nets sit, it’s nice to have the original.