Nets coach Jason Kidd enjoys his job after rough start

Nets head coach Jason Kidd looks on during

Nets head coach Jason Kidd looks on during the Nets' game against the Atlanta Hawks at O2 Arena on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 in London, England. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Julian Finney

advertisement | advertise on newsday

It's almost as if he were a human piñata, with more than a few people lining up for their chance to get in a whack or two to see if they get to the prize.

The criticisms hurled at Jason Kidd were deafening at times as the Nets stumbled out of the gates with losses in 21 of their first 32 games. "People took shots at me as a player and I didn't think it was going to change as a coach," the Nets coach said Tuesday on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN Radio. "I love being able to coach the Brooklyn Nets. I'm enjoying coaching. I've got a great group of guys. It won't be the last time people take shots at me. But I want to do what's best for the Brooklyn Nets and those guys that are playing."

Since a 21-point New Year's Eve beatdown in San Antonio, the Nets have gone 11-4, a remarkable turnaround that led to Kidd being named the Eastern Conference coach of the month for January.

Just flash back to all the mine fields he's maneuvered through in the first three months of his rookie coaching season.

Like getting suspended for the season's first two games for pleading guilty to a DWI incident two summers ago.

Or the spilled soda trick in that Nov. 27 loss to the Lakers, when he purposely had Tyshawn Taylor bump into him and knock his beverage out of his hand onto the floor with 8.3 seconds left, creating a pseudo-timeout since the Nets didn't have any. The league fined him $50,000 for that.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Don't forget the "reassignment" of top assistant Lawrence Frank a week later because of philosophical differences. Frank was the guy Kidd desperately wanted to be by his side when he assembled his staff, but now he's resigned to writing daily reports.

Add that all up and it created a path bumpy enough to give the westbound upper deck of the George Washington Bridge a run for its money. But in this last month or so, the Nets have gotten their act together and Kidd has had his hand on their resurgence.

Needing to find an effective way to change things up schematically with Brook Lopez lost to a season-ending foot injury, Kidd has gone to a funky, non-traditional starting lineup that features two point guards, a 6-7 small forward in Paul Pierce playing power forward and a 37-year-old, 6-11 power forward in Kevin Garnett at center. That, paired with him sprinkling in the right mixture of his reserves, has the Nets back on the right track.

"I mean, he's getting more comfortable," Pierce said after Monday night's win over the 76ers. "It's his first year ever coaching," Pierce said. "Day in and day out, you become more at ease with it and I think he's starting to settle in to what it takes to be a head coach." He's comfortable with guys around here, leading us on a day in, day out basis and it's starting to show.Shaun Livingston, who's exploded for 17.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.7 steals in his last three outings, points to Kidd as a reason for some of his success, all because he's constantly picking Kidd's brain. He's seeing the transformation and growth of Kidd's coaching metamorphosis up close and can notice some subtle differences.

"His aggressiveness, his assertiveness," Livingston said. "I think with the lineup, with the planning, especially gameplanning for teams, the way we match up with teams, and teams have to match up with us as well. He ran the point guard position. He sees it out there and I think him being more vocal has helped us as well.

"Because even though we have leaders on our team, we still look at him as the leader when it's time to get a play call or time to get a stop. What are we doing? Are we switching? What's the game plan? So he's done a great job. You've got to give him his credit."

Subscribe to Newsday’s sports newsletter for stories, photos and videos about your favorite New York teams plus national sports news and events.

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: