Nets new coach pleads guilty to drunk driving charge
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jason Kidd's introductory press conference at the Barclays Center last month produced plenty of questions regarding his neophyte status as an NBA coach.
Many wondered how the 40-year-old Kidd, a 19-year NBA veteran with a slew of gaudy statistics, an NBA championship ring and two Olympic Gold Medals, would be able to translate what he so masterfully produced on the court to his new players as the 18th head coach in Nets history.
The one question that wasn't asked during the fete, was how Kidd was going to explain smashing his Cadillac SUV into a telelphone poll on Long Island last summer while driving drunk.
Well, so much for the honeymoon.
With Kidd likely to be in attendance at the Barclays on Thursday for the Nets' much-anticipated press conference to help officially announce the blockbuster deal that brought the Boston trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn, the gloves will be off as far as Kidd's infamous brush with the law last July 15.
Kidd was arrested by Southampton Town police that night with bloodshot and glassy eyes, almost immediately re-tarnishing a good-guy reputation he had tried very hard to rebuild since being slapped with a domestic abuse charge for striking his former wife during his playing days in Phoenix in 2001.
“Jason has taken responsibility for his actions, and fully realizes that he needs to grow from this experience," said Nets General Manager Billy King in a team press release. "We are confident he will make these strides on a personal level and have a positive effect on others as well.”
Having spent last season with the East River rival Knicks, Kidd played his way through the controversy, helping New York secure the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference before a tough second-round playoff loss to Indiana.
Kidd announced his retirement soon after and was out of work for a little over a week before the Nets seriously began considering him for the head-coaching position vacated by fired interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
To his credit, the future Hall of Famer took an important first step toward putting this latest incident behind him Tuesday.
Kidd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge and agreed to speak to Long Island high school students about the dangers of drunken driving as he serves an interim probation for his transgression.
“He will say that the drinks he had that night rendered him intoxicated,” Kidd's attorney, Edward Burke Jr., told the Daily News on Monday. “What Jason is going to do is stand up and own this.”
Whether Kidd owns it or not, the NBA now has to decide if it will suspend him, and whether or not that suspension will prevent him from being on the bench for the Nets' season opener in November.
In all likelihood, Kidd will not be allowed to coach the new-look Nets in their first game of the 2013-14 season, and perhaps for several games thereafter, ceding that responsibility to top assistant Lawrence Frank, whom Kidd played under while becoming the greatest player in the franchise's NBA history during the previous decade.
It's certainly an inauspicious start, but one everyone could see coming, for the Nets' new head man.
More importantly, it's a valuable lesson learned, and one he can extend to his team before he starts drawing up Xs and Os for the upcoming challenge of capturing the Nets' first-ever NBA title.