Mark Jackson stopped short of reaching into his suit pocket to pull out an old 45 with the "Motown" label and slapping it onto a turntable.
But in listening to the Warriors coach staunchly defend Jason Kidd's rookie trials and tribulations, he left little doubt on the role of a background singer compared to the lead who's on stage with the booming voice and holding the mic. Quick, someone cue up a Gladys Knight & the Pips track.
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"Everybody has to know who's in charge, and that's the head coach," Jackson said last night before the Nets took on Golden State. "He's the guy calling the shots. I've never seen anyone of the Pips try to lead. That's Gladys' role. Let Gladys be Gladys."
If anyone has a good gauge on what it's like to jump directly into an NBA head coaching job with little experience, it's Jackson. So it came as little surprise that Jackson had strong opinions regarding Kidd's winding path, particularly since they're good friends.
The two have been in contact throughout Kidd's rookie campaign, and Jackson seemed a bit perturbed with how things were portrayed once Kidd "reassigned" top assistant Lawrence Frank strictly to writing daily reports last month because of philosophical differences.
"To me, I think too much was made of it," Jackson said. "I think it's clownish. There's no difference of opinions with my staff and I. We give suggestions, some I go with, some I don't. But at the end of the day, it's my decision, and we are united in whichever way we decide to go. If you have a problem with that, then you should not be my assistant coach.
" . . . So, I'm just disappointed in the way it was handled, and how much credit is given to a head coach and how much fault is given.
[It's] a no-lose situation. If I'm an assistant coach and I get credit when we win, but when we lose, Jason can't coach a lick. The guy is a Hall of Fame basketball player, he's an all-time great and he's going to be a heck of a basketball coach."
Kidd had some equally lofty praise for Jackson, who's settled into coaching these last three years after stints as analysts for YES and ESPN/ABC.
"Mark is my role model," Kidd said. "I've known him from playing to becoming a head coach and becoming a very good head coach . . . I'm happy for his success and he's given us guys who have retired from playing an opportunity to do something, and that's hopefully become a coach like him."