As Jason Kidd made his way into the upscale hotel on Tuesday for a mid-morning brunch, he heard “Welcome, Coach” and “Nice to see you, Coach” and “Good luck, Coach.”
Kidd smiled and shook their hands or punched and said “Thank you.” He was “humiliated” by well-wishers and “humiliated” by the opportunity to coach the Dallas Mavericks.
In many ways, Kidd has come full circle with the Mavericks, his NBA playing career having started in Dallas as a second pick in the 1994 Draft, winning Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995 with Grant Hill.
Kidd was traded after two seasons with the Mavericks, but returned to be part of the 2011 Championship Mavericks squad with super stallion Dirk Nowitzki. Now Kidd is back for his third round, coaching new Dallas star sensation Luka Doncic.
Kidd once again works with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and with first-year president of basketball operations and general manager Nico Harrison, a longtime friend Kidd has known since Harrison’s time as a senior executive at Nike.
“Winning a championship here, being drafted here, winning rookie of the year, there’s a lot that connects me to Dallas,” Kidd said over brunch. “And then also working for the best owner of the sport in Mark Cuban, then getting that call, talking to him and then having Nico on board – because I’ve known Nico for a long time – so a lot of things are very exciting because we all know each other. .
“There isn’t that uncertainty of not knowing or ‘Who is this person?’ So, all the players involved, we all know each other. So that makes it unique and it also makes it fun every day to come to work. So, yeah, I’m so honored to be Head Coach again. “
Kidd had coached with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, but after being out for a year, he wasn’t sure when he would return to the game or if he would even get a third time to become the boss again.
But he then got the chance to become an assistant coach of Frank Vogel’s team with the Lakers for two seasons. The Lakers won the 2020 NBA Championship in that union’s first year, which opened the door for Kidd in coaching circles.
“He arrived with a lot of humility and helped us win a championship. He was a big part of it “
Frank Vogel, Lakers head coach, on Jason Kidd’s contributions as an assistant coach
“At the time, I didn’t think about becoming a head coach,” said Kidd. “I was just excited for the opportunity to work with Frank and be part of the Lakers. I learned a lot from Frank. Frank is a great coach. Not just a great coach, but a great person.
Vogel recalled how “awesome” his two years with Kidd were and how he learned that Kidd is “a good person” who was ready to listen and learn how to be an assistant coach. This role is clearly different from being the top man.
“He was a great teammate for us in our organization,” said Vogel. “Extremely favorable to me. … He walked into the Lakers’ job without any assistant coaching experience with a mindset that he wanted to learn that part of it, knowing he went from being a player to being a head coach. , and that there are a lot of building blocks in terms of a coaching career that he didn’t have and was really excited to do these things – scouts, drills, do everything the prep work, doing the post-game cleanups in any film shoots that we would have.
“He was very enthusiastic about it. He arrived with a lot of humility and helped us win a championship. He was a big part of it. “
Kidd coached LeBron James on the Lakers and they were teammates on the 2008 US Olympic team. Kidd coached youngster Giannis Antetokounmpo with the Bucks. Kidd won an NBA title with Nowitzki and this Olympic gold medal with Kobe Bryant.
These are some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, relationships that have earned Kidd the respect to coach this Mavericks team.
Now he has a superstar in Doncic. Perhaps, Kidd has been asked, his time with James, Antetokounmpo, Nowitzki and Bryant gives him cachet with Doncic.
“That’s a great question. You might have to ask Luka that, ”Kidd said with a smile. “I hope those names helped me know where Luka will listen. But Luka is so, so good. I’m here to help him hopefully get to that next step and that is to win a championship.
The Mavericks had beaten Charlotte by 24 points on Monday night in a back-to-back game, but Kidd still had work to do. So he returned to the office to watch more movies after his media obligations and to prepare for the Lakers on Wednesday night.
Kidd has learned that the job is never done because he always “analyzes” and looks for ways to “improve” Mavericks, even if it takes him until the wee hours of the night when everyone else does. went home.
“It seems when you win you don’t stay that long and when you lose you are there until you look up and it’s two in the morning,” Kidd said. “But I think you have to find that balance. But you are still trying to find the answers to the test of what we can do best, wins or losses. So, yeah, I stay afterwards and try to think of what best we could have done to put the guys in a better position to be successful.
His “young team” is built around Doncic’s brilliance, but he has been sidelined the last three games with a left ankle injury. The Mavericks have won two of those three games, but are 14-14 in the ultra-competitive Western Conference and are missing Doncic’s 25.6 points and 8.5 assists per game.
“We’re a young team and I know there are high expectations because we have a young star,” Kidd said. “But it’s fun to see guys get better and they get better when people don’t see it. … They see the product on match day, but don’t practice. I have talked a lot and I am not a talker. But it’s great that the guys are reacting.
As he munched on his breakfast burrito, Kidd removed his glasses and set them on the table. When he first arrived in Dallas in 1994, he didn’t need glasses and he wasn’t bald like he is now.
He wore a Mavericks sweatshirt and a Texas Rangers baseball cap, his way of “completely immersing yourself in Dallas.”
But one thing still hasn’t changed in Dallas.
“I came here in 94-95 and it was Cowboys,” Kidd said with a laugh. “I came back again, and it was still the Cowboys and I come back as a coach and it’s still the Cowboys. Nothing has changed. But people love their Mavs, so that’s a good thing.