Coaches who take a step back, to become an assistant for a few years, this is not uncommon. The proof with the Warriors. They have on their bench, to support Steve Kerr, Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson, who have each already led a team before this experience in California.
But it is necessarily a small step back in a career as a technician. It can only remain a parenthesis, like for Brown who will bounce back in Sacramento next season (and perhaps also for Atkinson at the Lakers…), and it can even turn into a saving moment.
This is the case for Jason Kidd. After an average career start on the benches of Brooklyn and Milwaukee, he assisted Frank Vogel in Los Angeles. Obviously, this time on the Lakers bench did him a lot of good.
” It’s day and night “assures Jared Dudley to Fox Sports, who played under the orders of Kidd in Milwaukee then in Los Angeles, and now rubs shoulders with him on the bench in Dallas, as an assistant. “He calmed down in character. He trusts his assistants. He learned a lot from Vogel. When he gets angry, when he loses his patience, his communication has changed with the players. He is more balanced, he has more self-confidence. Without this passage to Los Angeles, he would not have this success. »
An observation that the former Nets and Mavericks player has already made and therefore has no trouble repeating it. “I learned a lot winning the title in Los Angeles with Vogel,” Kidd insists. “I became aware of that: you have to relax, things tend to work out naturally and you shouldn’t stress over small details. »
“It’s harder for superstars to understand how complicated things are for less strong players”
Kidd therefore took a few years to successfully find the right tone to speak to the players. It was necessary to ensure the transition from former player to coach. And in his case, the even more difficult one, from former great player to coach. Because the very great, those who hold a franchise or win MVP titles, do not become great technicians.
Only five Hall of Famers have won one or more league titles from the bench: Lenny Wilkens, KC Jones (two titles), Tom Heinsohn (two), Bill Russell (two) and Bill Sharman. More recently, we can think of Larry Bird, an excellent but short-lived coach in Indiana. “Some former stars manage it, others have a harder time”confesses the 2011 champion.
How to explain it? “We don’t make as much money as these guys”says Steve Kerr, smiling, speaking of the Kidd player. “I’ve always heard this theory: it’s harder for superstars to understand how complicated things are for players who are less strong, less important than them. For a more withdrawn player, the coaching makes more sense, because he can identify with the 15 players. Maybe it forces you to examine things more. »
The Warriors coach was a former good level player, but far from being a star. Like Phil Jackson or Pat Riley for example. He sort of went the opposite way to Kidd: becoming a great coach when you weren’t a great player.
“For the coaching fraternity, Kerr is a superstar,” says the Dallas coach. “He’s Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson. He is next to Gregg Popovich when it comes to superstar coaches. »