When the Brooklyn Nets named recently retired NBA legend Jason Kidd as their next head coach in June, it was a major move not just due to Kidd's celebrity, skill as a player, and total inexperience on the bench, but for his importance to the franchise. As a member of the New Jersey Nets from 2001 to 2008, Kidd helped the Nets to their first two NBA Finals appearances (2002 and 2003) and led them to a partial escape from the shadow of the rival New York Knicks. So it came as little surprise when the Nets announced in September that they would also retire Kidd's No. 5 jersey. Even if Kidd hadn't become the team's coach, he likely would have received this honor.
However, his status with the team did complicate matters significantly. While most jersey retirement ceremonies occur during major games in the regular season, Kidd's responsibilities make that situation largely untenable. Instead, he was honored on Thursday night prior to the Nets home exhibition game against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center. You can watch the video of the ceremony above (via The Point Forward), in which Kidd credits his teammates for his accomplishments.
It's easy to see why the Nets decided to honor Kidd at an exhibition rather than during the regular season. As head coach, Kidd must prepare his team for the game and ensure he's available for any strategic adjustments at all times. Apart from that, though, there's no telling how fans might react to honoring Kidd in the middle of a losing streak. He has already hit one major road bump as head coach, and there's no telling what might happen several months from now. After all, a coach is not afforded the same leeway as a retired legend remembered for the good times and little else.
Regardless of circumstances, Kidd richly deserves to have his Nets jersey retired. Upon his arrival in New Jersey, he instantly transformed the Nets from a lottery team to Eastern Conference champs and finished second in MVP voting behind Tim Duncan. Kidd ranks first in the Nets' NBA history in assists and steals and fourth in points and rebounds. His jersey joins those of Draven Petrovic (No. 3), John Williamson (No. 23), Bill Melchionni (No. 25), Julius Erving (No. 32), and Buck Williams (No. 52) in the rafters.
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