Jason Kidd nearly had to pinch himself a few times, all so he could make sure this weeklong whirlwind was actually real.
No doubt, the whole thing of retiring last week after 19 seasons and being named the Nets’ head coach Wednesday night is a little surreal.
“It is,” Kidd said Thursday on the YES Network following his introductory news conference at the Barclays Center. “It’s kind of happened so fast. It’s kind of like a dream come true, but is it really true. Today kind of helps put things in perspective that it is true.
“But I’m just happy to be a part of Brooklyn and I feel that we have a great chance. Yes, I’m a coach now and my experience is zero. But as a player, in 19 years in this league, I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great coaches. So I’m excited.”
Kidd’s hiring completes a wild 10-day span. He wasn’t even on the Nets' radar until his agent Jeff Schwartz reached out to Nets GM Billy King to express some interest, and see if there was any shot at him taking the head coaching reins.
King admitted Nets billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov and some of the team’s upper brain trust hedged a little bit initially, unsure if this was going to be the right move.
“When it came up, they were hesitant,” King said. “They asked my opinion. I said, ‘Let me talk to him.’ And then they asked and they liked the idea. They said, ‘Why not?’ I think sometimes we say, ‘OK, he’s got to be an assistant for two years or go do TV.’ And they said, ‘Why?’
“And I said, ‘You’re right.’ If you believe in somebody why do you say, ‘Hey, go do this for a couple of years?' I remember Mark Jackson doing TV and I’m good friends with Mark. I remember calling other teams when I was out of work saying, ‘Hire Mark Jackson, I think he’ll be a great coach.’
"And I had people say, ‘Well he hasn’t coached before, he hasn’t coached before.' But Mark had that same thing that Jason had where he commanded attention.”
Deron Williams couldn’t stop smiling when talking about Kidd. When he first learned of the news, he became giddy.
“I was excited,” Williams said. “I think it’s a great move for us. We get one of the greatest basketball minds of all time, one of the greatest point guards of all time. So for me personally, it’s as great a coach as I can [have] to lean from and grow as a leader, as a player, as a point guard as well as our team. Just talking with him for a couple of minutes about his vision and where he wants to take this thing got me really excited.”
Williams added: “He was my favorite player growing up. So now, I’ve had a chance on all levels. I’ve had a chance to watch him, play against him, play with him and now be coached by him. ... Hopefully, I can help him win some games and we can have fun enjoying this ride together.”
Kidd offered a little insight into his vision. He wants more versatility and less unpredictability. He wants someone, other than Williams, to handle the ball and bring it up the court at times. He mentioned how he would like to see swingman Gerald Wallace be more of a point forward and thinks Joe Johnson could shift from shooting guard over to small forward on occasion.
He also made it clear the importance of ball movement will be stressed.
“We are going to try to address being unselfish, understanding that the pass is just as nice as someone scoring," Kidd said. "So that will be the biggest thing that we try to get across early and playing defense, because sometimes people don’t look at the little things. They only look at the box score and who had the most points. Yes, we have plenty of guys on this team that can put the ball in the basket, but we need guys to be able to do the little things to help us win.”
Kidd, who’s in the midst of trying to assemble a staff, said he plans on drawing on the knowledge he’s acquired during his lengthy NBA career. In fact, he revealed he’s been jotting down notes about coaching situations for a while now.
“Being able to look back, especially the year before we won the championship in Dallas [in 2011], I started thinking about what are the options -- coach or going into management," Kidd said. "So, I kind of started this little diary of taking notes and different things of how maybe I might handle it if I was a coach or what did this coach do when he had to make a decision of starting a player or not starting a player.
"So those are all in my notes, so I’m going to have to rely on that and rely on my staff.”