Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge and agreed to speak to high school students about the dangers of drunken driving as part of a plea deal.
Kidd, a former guard for the New York Knicks, was sentenced to interim probation by Southampton Town Justice Andrea Schiavoni at Southampton Town Justice Court -- one year and one day after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a utility pole in Water Mill, where he has a home.
Asked by the judge if he drank that night before driving, Kidd, in a gray suit and navy tie, said: "Yes. A few drinks. Tequila. It was just a few drinks, three or four."
Schiavoni accepted the plea, but gently chided Kidd, telling him she's not a basketball fan and he was lucky no one was killed. "You could have killed yourself that night," Schiavoni said. "You could have killed someone else. I hope you wake up every day happy to be here."
Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, whose office agreed to the plea deal, attended the court proceeding and later told reporters that Kidd will speak twice to high school students in Suffolk County. The schools have not yet been determined, but the speaking engagements will be recorded and shown to all of the county school districts, Spota said.
"We believe Mr. Kidd is the perfect person to reinforce the important message: Don't drink and drive," Spota said. He said Kidd, 40, was not getting special treatment, but acknowledged the standard sentence for the charge is three years' probation.
"He wasn't let off the hook," said Spota, adding that using Kidd's celebrity status as a teaching tool "is far more important."
Said Nets General Manager Billy King: "Jason has taken responsibility for his actions, and fully realizes that he needs to grow from this experience."
If Kidd completes the public speaking engagements and any other requirements determined by probation officials, his guilty plea to drunken driving will be vacated at a Sept. 30 court appearance and he will plead guilty to a lesser charge, driving while impaired, prosecutors said. He also paid $8,100 to LIPA for the damage to the utility pole, prosecutors said.
His out-of-state license has been suspended and will be reinstated 90 days after his final plea.
Kidd was arrested about 2 a.m. on July 15, 2012, after his 2010 Escalade struck a utility pole and hit several trees before stopping in a wooded area.
Afterward, Kidd stood by his lawyer, Edward Burke Jr., who said, "Jason stood before the court and took responsibility."