Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest players of all time. So is Jason Kidd. Ewing put together a Hall of Fame career with the New York Knicks, Seattle SuperSonics and the Orlando Magic. Kidd put together his Hall of Fame career with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks. Ewing transitioned to an NBA coach immediately following his retirement from his playing days. Now Kidd is looking to do the same with the Brooklyn Nets, and Ewing is warning that Kidd's transition will be a tough one.
The adjustment from player to coach wasn't an easy one for Patrick Ewing and he was an assistant coach of a pretty horrible team. Imagine transitioning to a head coaching position of a team who is expected to make a deep run into the playoffs? That's exactly what Jason Kidd will be facing next season as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
"It's a big difference, especially going to head coach," Ewing said on ESPN New York 98.7 FM radio on Thursday. "It was a big difference for me going from a player to an assistant coach when I did it in Washington. When you're a player, you don't realize how much time commitment that being a coach is. … But then going to being a head coach, the buck stops there with him. That's where all the heat's going to be going."
Clearly there is going to be a large transition from player to coach. Remember, these are players he just played against on their inner-city rival. But respect shouldn't be an issue. Kidd is one of the best point guards to ever play. However, there's going to be a learning period and he'll be learning on the job. Look for Kidd to rely heavily on his coaching staff.
Clearly hiring Kidd as their head coach was a risk by Brooklyn. Especially with the seasoned coaches available this off-season. Ewing went on to talk about two main issues and obstacles Kidd will face as a new head coach.
First, Kidd will need to detach from his personal relationship with his close friend and star point guard Deron Williams.
"It's going to be difficult because you have to separate yourself," Ewing said. "That's one thing that when I first started coaching, the advice that I got was I had to separate myself from the players because I had just came from playing. You have to separate yourself to be able to give them constructive criticism or discipline them when needed."
Kidd's relationship with Williams will be a huge issue for Brooklyn to face. Obviously it will initially be a positive for Kidd. After all, Kidd is William's hero. What could go wrong right? Well, Williams is a very good point guard but he's already gotten Jerry Sloan and Avery Johnson fired. He certainly didn't do anything to keep P.J. Carlesimo in Brooklyn. What if his relationship starts to sour with Kidd? What if their relationship goes so well his teammates perceive Williams as a teacher's pet?
Second, Ewing said Kidd will need to hire an experienced staff.
"He's going to have to surround himself with good people around him to help him with the transition," he said. "I've been doing this for nine years. First of all, all it takes is for somebody to believe in you, and obviously Mr. Prokhorov and all the VPs at the Nets believe in him."
Kidd will need to hire assistant coaches with a lot of coaching experience. The more he can hire with head coaching experience the better. Brooklyn should push for him to reach out to coaches who are available. There's already rumors of him potentially hiring his former Nets' coach Lawrence Frank. That's the type of bench coaches that could help him with the transition to the bench.
Something to keep in mind is that Ewing hasn't gotten a chance to be a head coach even with nearly a decade of experience as an assistant on the NBA level. Ewing may claim to be happy for Kidd but don't be confused, he's jealous as well.
Now, that doesn't mean his words are any less true. Clearly Kidd is going to have to learn on the job and struggle through becoming a head coach instead of a point guard that most considered and extra coach on the court. Helping get guys in the right positions and being the man with the final call are two totally different things all together.
Kidd has a very high basketball IQ and the stigma is that guards, particularly point guards, make the best coaches. Especially as compared to big men. Obviously that's more of a guideline than a rule. Each and every situation is different and a lot of what goes into coaching success has to do with the roster.
It could turn out that Kidd isn't a very good head coach and that one day someone gives Ewing a shot and he's very good. it could be the other way around. You just never know. They could both do very well or they could both struggle. That's something that remains to be seen.
What isn't in question is that transitioning from a player to a coach at the NBA level isn't easy. There's bumps and obstacles along the way and you just have to put your head down and work your way through them. There's little doubt Kidd will be up to the task. He just better not think the path to being a successful head coach in the NBA will be easy. If it was there wouldn't be such turnover every season in the coaching ranks.
Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork also reports that Marcus Camby and other Knicks teammates of Kidd took to Twitter to congratulate him on his new position as Nets head coach.
Camby: "S/O 1st ballot HOF @RealJasonKidd, one of the best to do it and on the new gig!"
Raymond Felton: "Congrats @realjasonkidd, the Nets are lucky to have you. I'm gonna hate seeing you on the other side. #knickstape."
Iman Shumpert: "And congrats to one of my fav players ever @RealJasonKidd on his head coaching job! #iLoveThisGame and everything he did for it."
James White: "Congrats to my man @RealJasonKidd on getting that coaching job. He going be a great coach."
Kidd said after his introductory news conference at the Barclays Center on Thursday that James Dolan, Mike Woodson and Carmelo Anthony had all reached out to congratulate him.
As stated on the Knicks 101 Facebook page, Knicks 101 wishes Kidd a successful career as an NBA coach. He seems to have the making of a very good head coach. Hopefully he'll do very well facing everyone besides the Knicks and have many years of success leading Brooklyn to a second place finish in the Atlantic Division behind the Knickerbockers.
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