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Jason Kidd firing should surprise no one… including Rick Carlisle.

Jason Kidd firing should surprise no one… including Rick Carlisle.

“Very surprising!”


These are Coach Rick Carlisle’s statements used to describe his reactions to the Monday morning announcement by Milwaukee Bucks that they fired Jason Kidd. While the Milwaukee front office put its best spin on the separation, anyone who has followed Kidd’s career could have predicted this outcome. Like drama surrounding a Lebron James team, conflict with ownership and coaches have followed Jason Kidd wherever he has been; and no one knows that better than Coach Carlisle.

If you didn’t know any better, it might be hard to imagine one of the Mavericks most beloved players from the 2011 Championship team as one of the most disgruntled players in the league. However, Kidd struggled with leadership at all levels in every stage of his NBA career. He was involved in five trades and is associated with the firing of six different coaches.

During his first stint in Dallas, Kidd lived through the firing of coach Dick Motta, who drafted him in 1994. After conflict with teammates and with new coach, Jim Clemmons from the Championship Bulls, new owner Frank Zaccanelli was forced into trading the future star to the Phoenix Suns.

While with the Suns, conflict showed up in Kidd’s personal life when he was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge for striking his wife during an argument on how to feed their son Trey. That incident among other problems prompted the Sun’s to accept a trade offer from the New Jersey Nets for the talented Stephon Marbury. This move would give Kidd an opportunity to make a fresh start and put past conflicts behind him.

Kidd would see some of his best seasons playing for the Nets, yet the pattern of conflict continued. After two straight trips to the NBA Finals, Kidd reportedly demanded Nets General Manager (GM) Rod Thorn, fire head coach, Byron Scott. Kidd was eventually traded back to the Dallas Mavericks as troubles with the Nets front office continued to mount.

No one was more excited for Kidd’s arrival in Dallas than Dirk Nowitzki. Since witnessing Steve Nash walk away in what some would consider the second biggest blunder of the Mark Cuban era (and only because Cuban pushed Donnie Nelson to pass on choosing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 draft) the Mavericks had been desperately seeking a “pass first” point guard that would fit with their rising super star.  And did he ever. The only problem? He didn’t fit with coach Avery Johnson. Even though he tried to deflect responsibility of the coach’s release by allegedly telling a friend, “They can’t blame that one on me, when I got there, the players all thought he was crazy. And he was.” The fact remains that like coaches and GMs before him, Coach Johnson, was let go less than three months after Kidd came on board. His fault or not, the pattern of ‘disgruntled player and embattled coach continued to repeat.

For a time things seemed to improve for Kidd. Owner Mark Cuban hired 2002 Coach of the Year, Rick Carlisle to lead the Mavericks and he quickly began the work of improving the team, taking them to the Western Conference Semi-Finals after knocking out rival San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs in his first year as head coach. Kidd and Carlisle had well documented and at times, heated disagreements, though Coach Rick’s degree in Psychology may have been a key component to keeping their relationship strong enough to win the Mavericks first and only NBA Championship in 2011. The point guard spent one more season in Dallas before creating a rift between him and owner Mark Cuban when he left the Mavs to play one season in New York and then retire. Jason’s troubles with coaches and ownership should have ended with his retirement, but that’s not how Kidd plays ball.

Shortly after his retirement, Kidd accepted a coaching position with the now Brooklyn Nets. After reportedly insisting the owners pay a record amount to hire his close friend, Lawrence Frank, as an assistant coach, Coach Kidd allegedly cursed out his new assistant and demoted him to writing daily reports for the organization after one month into the job. To make tensions worse, the new coach would make a power play with the Nets ownership and demand full team control including authority over General Manager Billy King. Kidd’s troubles with coaches and ownership were now not just a part of his playing career, it now marred his coaching career as well.

In 2014, after only one year with the Brooklyn Nets, Kidd made a stunning move and accepted a job as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks ousting coach Larry Drew, to work with business partner and team owner, Marc Lasry. As this pattern repeated, Kidd attempted to bully the Bucks into giving him the GM responsibilities and creating more tensions with ownership. Throw in a disappointing season with a rising superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo (yes… the same guy Cuban passed on in the 2013 draft) we find ourselves where we are today. Kidd once again in conflict with his owners and coaches and now, without a job.

No, Coach Carlisle, this is not “surprising.”

Contributor covering the Dallas Mavericks.

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