You get the Brooklyn Nets, of course.
With Jason Kidd taking over as the 18th head coach in Nets’ history, it was inevitable that several questions from his introductory press conference would focus on Brooklyn’s All-Star point guard Deron Williams.
“I have a lot to learn about coaching, but when I played the game, I felt like I was the extension of the coach,” Kidd said. “Now I look to Deron to be that guy.”
Williams appears eager to learn from his new 10-time NBA All-Star head coach.
“The goal is to be an extension of him and learn from him,” Williams said. “I think his leadership is definitely something I can learn from and improve in, and I look forward to doing it.”
Kidd will rely on Williams to be the coach on the floor. As fellow point guards, Kidd will put his trust in Williams—who Kidd kept calling one of the best point guards in the league.
“It starts with your leader, and when you look at Deron…that is your best player, and also he’s the one that is going to relay the message as much as the guys who are hearing me talking.”
But wait just a second? Wasn’t Avery Johnson a point guard as well? Why didn’t he and Williams connect?
And think about the similarities between Kidd and Johnson.
Kidd played 19 years in the NBA, and Johnson was right up there with 16 seasons. Both became head coaches at the age of 40 the year after retirement, though Johnson was at first an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks in 2005 before head coach Don Nelson resigned during that season. Finally, each player won one championship: Johnson in 1999 with the Spurs and Kidd in 2011 with the Mavericks.
But here’s the thing: While Johnson was certainly a talented NBA player, Kidd is arguably a top-five point guard to ever play the game—he is rightfully mentioned along names like Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson and Bob Cousy.
As a former All-Star himself, Kidd can relate to Williams on a level that Johnson was unable to. And although Johnson was a point guard on an NBA championship team, he was never his team's best player. He was never the focus of an opposing team's scouting report. He never had to deal with the day-in, day-out scrutiny or pressure that comes with being a franchise player.
Kidd has and that, along with his well-renowned personal relationship with Williams, will help him connect with Williams in a way few other coaches—including Brian Shaw—would have been able.
“I have no problem taking directions from him,” Williams said. “He’s one of the smartest to ever play this game. We’ve had a lot of great conversations over the years.”
Williams said he was caught off guard when he heard the news that Kidd had been named head coach. Though they played against each often—Williams with the Jazz and Kidd with the Mavericks—the two developed a close relationship while playing for Team USA as part of the “Redeem Team” that took home the gold medal in Beijing in 2008. Kidd served as a reserve point guard to Williams and Chris Paul.
“He was a guy that I was ready to pass the torch to because I saw myself in him in the sense that he was a guy that can fill up the stats sheet,” Kidd said about befriending Williams. “He loves the competition. He works extremely hard, so that’s where it all started.”
Now, it continues.
Kidd mentioned a few times that he would like to use his players in different positions so that Williams is not the only one taking the ball up the court. He mentioned Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace as alternatives, with the goal to pass the ball ahead and run as much as possible.
“I think Gerald can be easily a point-forward because of the talent,” Kidd said. “He’s athletic, he understands how to play.”
Williams agreed that ball movement is key.
“If you look at the teams that have won championships the last 10 years, I don’t think many of them thrive on just one-on-one basketball,” Williams said. “It’s about ball movement. It’s about sharing the basketball, having fun and playing.”
While it seems like a match made in heaven, the dynamic between Kidd and Williams will take time to evolve. It will be a learning experience for both parties, and both must be patient and listen to each other.
“I was a player, and I felt like I could do everything,” Kidd said. “So it’s always going to be where we can communicate, and we can agree to disagree sometimes. That’s what a coach understands, too.”
But what is most important is that Kidd already has the respect of Williams—his star player.
“I think it’s huge brining back one of the best players, arguably the best player ever to play in a Nets uniform,” Williams said. “To now have him as your coach, he’s already the face of the franchise. I think it’s an exciting time for everybody.”
Now the duo needs to get to work to develop their chemistry and means of communication. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will be fun to watch how these two All-Stars mesh.
Hopefully, for Nets fans, Williams, with Kidd, can help to lead the franchise to higher heights. Just like Kidd did back when he became a Net for the first time.
Now, in his return, Kidd hopes to replicate the success he had the first time around. He traded his ankle tape for a whiteboard and has traded Richard Jefferson for Williams.
One way or another, the Brooklyn Nets became a lot more interesting—and probably a lot better.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.