Anyone who watched the third-rate reality show that passed for a press conference Wednesday in Milwaukee made the mistake of waiting for someone to say something rational. Perhaps an explanation of what the hell just happened the last few days. Maybe even an apology. Something.
And yet, just as you suspected, the new Bucks owners and Jason Kidd proved themselves to be total frauds. They mangled Kidd's sloppy and choreographed exit from Brooklyn last weekend and then they mangled the chance to come clean and answer the one question that begged to be asked: Why?
Why choose Kidd, who did nothing in Brooklyn to prove he was worth this kind of trouble and poor PR?
Why did the Bucks owners feel compelled to start their regime so raggedly?
And why did they participate in a scheme that stabbed another team in the back, and moved them to fire poor Larry Drew, and turned general manager John Hammond into a blathering, pathetic yes-man who has no choice but walk the company line or else?
In a rushed-along press conference that lacked warmth or even a degree of happiness -- you got the idea nobody even wanted to be there -- Kidd and the owners looked embarrassed yet never admitted it.
"It's all about Milwaukee," said Kidd, refusing to explain the last few days. "We move forward."
Maybe Mark Lasry, Wes Edens and Kidd deserve each other. So at least there's that. In the face of a tremendous storm of criticism around the league, and fan polls in Milwaukee that reject the idea of Kidd turning around an awful franchise, the clumsy Bucks are throwing their future to him, anyway. Edens said the hiring of Kidd was "a real coup for the organization" and to that, you simply say:
Good luck with Kidd.
Good luck with a scheming, sneaky politician who has burned bridges everywhere he's been. Based purely on his track record, Kidd looks out only for himself, which contradicts the way he played for 21 mostly-great years in the NBA. Away from the court, the only "open man" he ever tried to spot was the one in the mirror.
Remember, this departure from the Nets was made possible because Kidd was jealous of the money given to Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher, a pair of first-time coaches (like Kidd) who struck gold with the Warriors and Knicks this summer. Feeling a bit ripped off, Kidd immediately demanded a new deal. But let's back up a bit.
The Nets took a huge chance on Kidd last summer when they hired him right off the basketball court. It was a gamble because Kidd never held a clipboard or a piece of chalk in his life. It was a risk because the Nets spent more than any team in NBA history to build their roster with the idea of winning now and couldn't afford a mistake. It was a risk because the Nets could've had anybody else, particularly Lionel Hollins, who coincidently was hired on Wednesday to replace Kidd in Brooklyn.
They took that risk because they were hypnotized by the "coach on the floor" aspect of Kidd's game and completely disregarded, or didn't bother to investigate, his tendency to be a rat.
His history doesn't require much deep digging. Kidd left a trail that even Joey Crawford could see clearly. Even in college, if you care to rewind that far, he had blood on his hands from the firing of Lou Campanelli at Cal. With the Mavericks as a rookie, he fought teammate Jim Jackson over singer Toni Braxton. In Phoenix came his well-publicized spousal abuse incident with his then-wife, which led to his trade to the Nets. There, after two trips to the NBA Finals, he got Byron Scott -- his weekend golfing buddy -- fired in favor of Lawrence Frank. Later, after making ridiculous demands, Kidd was sent to Dallas where he won his only championship, then reneged on a three-year agreement with the Mavs to join the Knicks instead.
Weeks after the Nets took a leap of faith with Kidd, he wrecked his car in the Hamptons and was charged with DWI. The Nets stood by him anyway. Less than a month into the season, he demoted Frank, his lead assistant, forcing the Nets to essentially pay $1 million for an advanced scout. And then after a 10-21 start, the Nets supported Kidd while GM Billy King acted as a human shield, trying to take all the hits.
Kidd was covered for, apologized for, supported, coddled and defended by the Nets. And what did he do in return? A player who cashed $189 million worth of checks in his career became enraged over a $2 million salary gap between him and Kerr and Fisher. A first-time coach who never paid his dues and was hired on promise, and nothing else, thought he was suddenly disrespected and unappreciated.
So he drove a javelin into his reputation, or whatever was left of it, by gunning for power in the organization and demanding twice the pay. Basically, Kidd devised his own death in Brooklyn and pulled it off, just as he planned, just to run to Milwaukee and make a few extra dollars.
"This is business," said Kidd, with a slight grin, at the Bucks press conference. "Billy said it best. It's business, and that's what it comes down to."
The Nets were so angry over Kidd's master plan that they reportedly leaked details of it, knowing that Drew and Hammond would be completely caught off-guard and therefore put Edens and Lasry in the embarrassing position of trying to mend fences.
So congratulations are in order for the Bucks and especially Lasry, the part-owner who played a supporting role in Kidd's exit. Because if Lasry refused to fire Drew and made it clear that the Bucks wouldn't give Kidd a safe landing spot, then Kidd never would've pulled this stunt. Lasry and Kidd have a prior business relationship, the only reason Kidd chose to leave a good team for a crummy one located in a small, Midwestern town.
Too bad for Drew, who lasted one year on a job that was made more difficult when Larry Sanders, his best player, went rogue. Too bad for Hammond, the GM, who wasn't part of the hiring process. Hammond better walk the office halls with a mirror, so he can always watch his back.
And too bad for Bucks fans, who brimmed with optimism the last few months when Herb Kohl sold the team and the Bucks drafted Jabari Parker. Those events signaled a new day for a franchise that had lost its way and was, for a while anyway, in danger of being Fed-exed to Seattle. While Drew certainly wasn't the long-term answer at coach, scores of other replacements had better qualifications than Kidd, who only got the job because he's tight with the owner.
And as for the job … there's a good chance Kidd can screw this up. The Bucks are loaded with impressionable young players, the exact opposite makeup Kidd had in Brooklyn. The chore of teaching is completely foreign to Kidd, who didn't need to explain to Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett or Deron Williams the nuances of the pick-and-roll. Does he have the delicate touch needed for the job? Can he relate to 21-year-olds who need a pep talk instead of a kick in the pants? How does he rehabilitate Sanders, a head case who stands to make $44 million over the next four years?
If you're the Bucks, and you had an opening at head coach, is Jason Kidd your first choice? Really?
Lasry even called Kidd "the best young coach in the business" which probably comes as news to Phoenix (Jeff Hornacek), Atlanta (Mike Budenholzer) and Charlotte (Steve Clifford).
Questions, but no answers. Not from the Bucks' owners or the guy who put them on the spot. Lasry and Edens, according to a source, were completely thrown off-guard by the reaction from the coaching fraternity, fans and media over the entire episode. They never saw it coming. It stunned them. If that's the case, then these guys don't have a clue about doing business in the NBA. Perhaps they run their other businesses a certain way, with little disregard for procedure and zero effort to conduct background checks on important employees.
If this is what's in store for the Bucks, Milwaukee fans would be better off shipping them to Seattle, and charging Kidd with yet another sloppy divorce. Sooner or later, Kidd will leave this team, and there will only be one way to describe it: Ugly.