Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for March, after he led the Nets to 12-4 record in the month, the best in the Eastern Conference. The 12 victories by the Nets matched the most wins in the month of March in team history.
Kidd spoke humbly about the honor, “I think it’s not just the coach award, it’s because of the way the guys are playing, and the guys are playing great. My job is to stay out of the way, so it’s a great honor for those guys, unfortunately they put the coach’s name on it.”
Kidd is the first coach in Nets history to win the award twice in a single season, having also won it in January. Kidd is only the second rookie head coach since the NBA created the award in 1982-83 to win the award twice in the same season, with Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls being the first.
This is just the latest record Kidd has set as a coach or player for the Nets, and BrooklynFans.com asked Kidd whether he thinks about that, and he said, “Records are meant to be broken, D-Will (Deron Williams) broke one (consecutive games with a steal) the other night, so it’s just part of the game. You guys keep stats, we keep the record of wins, losses. As a team right now, we’re playing well, and hopefully we can continue to play well right through the month of April.”
What makes the 12-4 record in March even more impressive is that they did it without Kevin Garnett. When Garnett missed time early in the season, the team suffered, especially on the defensive end. Kidd says of the difference in his team with regards to whether KG is in the lineup or not, “I think the trust, the process of becoming a team. When you look at the high expectations, the new faces, maybe the new defensive schemes, offensive schemes, guys just finding their way, being traded for the first time…there’s a lot of different things that are going on, and you got to put some pieces of the puzzle together, and you sprinkle in some injuries. It’s just a matter of time, being patient, and we didn’t get off to a great start, but guys kept working and we found our way.”
The Nets turnaround is all the more remarkable considering they lost their leading scorer, Brook Lopez, on December 21st. Kidd had to re-imagine his offense and went to a smaller lineup, valuing transition play resulting in turnovers and sacrificing rebounds. With Shaun Livingston taking Lopez’s spot, and later Mason Plumlee taking Garnett’s spot, the starting five of Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, and Joe Johnson along with Plumlee and Livingston, now is as strong as ever.
Kidd said of doing this without Lopez, “The unfortunate thing about this game is injuries. I think the injury is something that changed the landscape of who we’re gonna try to be and who we are now. When you look at, with Brook in, we were trying to play through Brook and play inside-out. But now, with Brook out, we had to go to what you guys call a small lineup, but we feel Joe (Johnson) is just as big as anyone and he’s our post player, or Deron (Williams) or Shaun (Livingston), so we just kind of changed the face of who we play inside, and now we’ve given guys who weren’t given a lot of attempts at the 3, we’ve given those guys a little bit more attempts. So, I think that’s probably the thing with the Nets is that, you know, the injuries that we went through, shuffling different guys in and ending up with Paul (Pierce) playing the stretch 4 and kind of finding our identity at that point.”
Kidd was asked what awards have meant to him throughout his life, and he said, “The only ones that I really treasure is the Olympic gold medals that I have representing my country and winning a championship. Those are the only ones that I really recognize. Anything else is just, you know, part of the game.”