In August, after Brooklyn Nets rookie Mason Plumlee just about confirmed that the franchise was planning on retiring Jason Kidd’s number in 2013-14, we suggested that the ceremony to honor the Net legend would be at the very least “odd.” After all, Kidd was hired to become the team’s head coach despite no prior coaching experience just days after retiring as a player. And he probably won’t officially coach his first game as a Net head man until after serving an expected two or three game suspension after he cops a plea on his DWI charge from 2012.
And now that we have full confirmation from the franchise that the Nets will indeed retire Jason’s number, we can formally sign off on the “odd” part. Likely because of his impending suspension, the Nets will honor Jason in an exhibition game against the Miami Heat on Oct. 17, instead of taking in the embarrassment of holding out for a few games while top assistant Lawrence Frank runs the team for the first games of the regular season.
“My warmest congratulations to Jason as we commemorate his outstanding career as an NBA player and his unparalleled contribution to the Nets franchise,” said Nets Principal Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. As one chapter closes, another will soon be written and I know that we are all looking forward to Jason’s continued successes.”
"This honor is richly deserved," said Nets General Manager Billy King. "Jason is firmly established in the Nets' record books as the greatest player in the team's NBA history, and the retirement of his #5 is a fitting conclusion to his legacy as a Nets' player."
“This is a very humbling honor and one that I will always cherish," said Kidd. "There can be no greater recognition of an athlete's time with any team than to have his number retired, and this gesture by the Nets organization validates a very significant portion of my career that was spent as a player with this franchise."
Kidd becomes the sixth player in franchise history have his number raised to the rafters, joining Drazen Petrovic (#3), John Williamson (#23), Bill Melchionni (#25), Julius Erving (#32) and Charles ‘Buck’ Williams (#52), who was the most recent honoree in April, 1999.
It should be noted that the exhibition game will be televised on TNT, but even as an NBA diehard I rarely watch many exhibition games as I stuff in that last bit of family duty and weekday evening free time before the regular season starts. On top of that, this exhibition contest will go up against a nationally televised Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks game on the NFL Network, and likely some postseason action from Major League Baseball.
This probably isn’t how the Nets and Kidd want it, and we don’t mean to make light of a very serious DWI charge, but this is probably the best course of action. The Nets are two arenas, two locations, one uniform change and team name removed from the place where Jason did his best work as a member of the New Jersey Nets, so it isn’t as if this will be a ceremony filled with obvious trademarks of his 2001-08 run with the Nets. He’s in a new building, the uniforms are a new color, with nary a Kenyon Martin or Richard Jefferson to be found. So it’s just fine to lose some of the sentimentality.
And the Nets smartly avoided a few games’ worth of unease in waiting for Kidd to sit out a potential three-game suspension before returning for his first home game as head coach on November 5 against Utah. Better to get it out of the way early, and sell a few more tickets along the way, while dragging television viewers over from baseball and football games that actually count for at least the first few moments of a meaningless Nets/Heat game.
They’re an odd team, these Nets. Let’s see if their rookie coach can turn them into a great team. When he’s allowed to by the league, that is.