Throughout Jason Kidd’s time with the Milwaukee Bucks, he demonstrated an inability to take responsibility and that continued in an interview released Thursday.
When Jason Kidd became head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, it happened on somewhat of a sour note- even for Bucks fans.
After just completing his first season as a head coach at any level with the Brooklyn Nets and leading them to a 44-38 record and a second round playoff appearance, Kidd tried making a power move with Nets’ brass that completely backfired. From there, he used his previous business connection with the Bucks’ new owners to leverage a trade to Milwaukee.
All of this was worked out on the Bucks’ sides of things while Larry Drew was still under contract, something that is frowned upon around the NBA. However, Bucks’ fans were mostly willing to look past that, as they finally had a big name coach- no matter how raw or inexperienced he was.
And, as with most young coaches, there’s a steep learning curve-even if Kidd had been around and succeeded in the game for a number of years.
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Despite the expected learning curve, Kidd led the Bucks to a surprising 41-41 record and a sixth seed in the East during his first year with the team, a 26-win improvement from the previous season. The team was led by an aggressively attacking defense that forced teams into uncomfortable situations and caused turnover after turnover. The Bucks ranked second in defensive rating (99.3) and first in opponent turnovers per 100 possessions (17.9) according to NBA.com.
This elite defense increased expectations moving forward, unfortunately, Kidd and his squad weren’t able to continue the success they found. Teams adapted to their aggressively trapping team and discovered a weakness in the corners. Despite a clear-cut strategy to dismantle their scheme becoming known league-wide, Kidd and his coaching staff failed to adapt to their opponent’s adaptation.
This failure is ultimately what led to the downfall of Kidd as well. In 2016-17, Kidd’s last full season coaching the Bucks, Milwaukee still ranked near the top by causing 15.2 turnovers per 100 possessions (14th), but their defensive rating had slipped to 106.4 (19th in the league).
Even with the fans constantly and relentlessly calling for his head, the ownership group kept him in his position for one more season, but he didn’t last. With a generational player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee was expected to do great things this season. However, when they got off to a 23-22 start, the ownership let Kidd go and put the responsibility of their failure on his shoulders for, perhaps, the first time in his career.
Kidd has been known to blame others for their struggles, often times citing the team’s youth or inexperience for some of their untimely losses this season:
"We’re a young team learning how to play the game at a high level with expectations that are a little bit too high. Understand that nobody in that locker room has ever won, so they’re learning how to win as a team. There’s gonna be tough nights like tonight where you’re gonna have to come out and give more energy on the defensive end. We just didn’t do that now."
His tone didn’t change in an interview with Bleacher Reports’ Howard Beck, as he continuously puts the onus of his failures on others:
"So, ‘driving them hard?’ I think, working. There’s nothing wrong with work. If you want to be great, you have to work. If you want to be good, you have to work. If you want to just be average, or below average, then you don’t have to work."
He even went so far as to blame the “younger generation” for not wanting to work hard:
"When people are saying that I’m old-school, it’s not that I’m old-school. It’s what it takes to win. And I think we’ve lost a little of that with the younger generation of ‘everybody gets a trophy.’"
He goes on to direct some of the blame on the owners before saying nobody’s listening to him, and when it finally appears as if he might take some responsibility himself, he undermines it at the end:
"Maybe I did lose the locker room. Maybe they lost trust in what I was trying to do, player-wise, or as owners, or as management. But that was never communicated to me."
It sounds at first as if he’s going to take responsibility for losing the locker room or trust with the players, owners, or management, but right when he’s about to have you think he’s matured and turned a corner- he pulls the rug right out from under you.
I’m sure Kidd will have a successful coaching career, but I believe everything that comes before the word “but” is bull crap.