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Jason Kidd: One of a kind, first as a player, now as a coach

Maddie Meyer

We published our thoughts about what Jason Kidd meant to the Nets in June when the team hired him to be their next coach. But so much has changed.

The team is now a true title contender with the addition of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko. They have arguably the deepest team in the league with the highest payroll in NBA history. Now, it's about Jason Kidd the coach, but what made "The Captain" a great player can translate into making a great coach.

As Kidd stood at half court of the Barclays Center Thursday night, he said, "When I go up there today, I take my teammates with me." This was Jason Kidd being Jason Kidd. One of the few players who are "team-first" in the post-Jordan era. In this day and age, many look at the player scoring 20 or 30 points, not the guy who is third in NBA history in triple-doubles.

His selflessness is likely to be seen in his coaching as well. His starting five has 35 All-Star appearances between them, so every one is going to need a fair amount of touches. Kidd is sure to have an input on what sets are run to get everyone a look at the hoop and constant ball movement just like he deftly did for 19 years.

'He's just unselfish," Kerry Kittles told Alyonka Larionov when asked about his defining personality trait. "In today's game, you don't really see a guy who will give of himself the way he gave of himself. He was committed to making someone else better. That was his deal and he loved doing it.

"His unselfishness is what makes him special," added Kittles, using the present tense.

Kidd wanted the ceremony done in preseason and done quickly, another indication of that unselfishness, "We can do it right now...Just want it quick. (Doing it before the regular season) was my choice. During training camp would be even better. It's not about me. It's about the players."

Here is Kidd again, not wanting the spotlight, but rather dishing it off to others, even when he isn't playing anymore. He's a class act, a stern leader, and while he is flashy with his behind-the-back passes, he isn't. Kidd made those passes because that is how the ball got from him to his teammate in the most efficient manner, and it worked.

His coaching scheme will feature similar adjectives. None of these rotational players are particularly flashy: Brook Lopez is a crafty big man who doesn't move all that fast when he gets the ball in the paint and Paul Pierce is known to work his defender down into the 10-15 foot range before pulling his go-to jumper. And of course, there's Iso-Joe.

Kittles thinks Kidd's history is going to be a big asset: "Most former players are players' coaches because they've been in the locker rooms, they know the ups and downs. They know what's going on in players' heads. From a motivational standpoint, I think he'll be good in that respect. And the strategy part, he'll learn, he'll grow, he'll figure it out. It's not that hard, it's basketball."

There aren't many players like Kidd anymore: not a particularly great athlete, not a big social media guy, just a guy who goes out plays the ball the good old fashioned way.

Brett Yormark said of the ceremony and Kidd's whole demeanor, "We went to Jason and we said, ‘Jason, what would you like to do? This is what we want to do.' And he chose this game tonight, and I think it reflects him as a player. He was always selfless and it was always team-first. He did not want to take away from the team during the regular season - and this was his desire."

The man who brought Kidd to the Nets thinks Kidd will do just fine as a coach. "He has great respect because of who he is and what he's done from players. He's got some really good players here," says Rod Thorn. I think he is going to do absolutely great ... It makes sense. When you really look at it - his history with the Nets, what he knows about the game, what the Nets were looking for, what they were trying to do. I think they got a coup when they got Jason."

On a personal note, I became infatuated with the Nets just as Kidd was arriving. Kidd made basketball so pure, like an art, and as an adolescent I couldn't help but try to make the passes he made in my recreational league. When Kidd left the sinking ship that were the mid-2000 Net teams, I longed for him, or at least a replica of him, to return.

Deron Williams came to resurrect a helpless franchise, but it wasn't the same. Williams is great, but he's no Kidd. No one is Kidd. Fast forward nearly three years, and number 5 is back, in a suit. But a suit will do because as long as Kidd is with the Nets, this team will have that special spark that he produced when he was throwing lobs to Kenyon Martin or looking to his left and hitting Kerry Kittles in the right corner for a three.

Thank you Jason Kidd, first as a player, now as a coach.