If you want to see the most optimistic way the Jason Kidd Era in Brooklyn can turn out, look no further than Larry Bird’s stint on the bench with the Pacers more than a decade ago. Bird, like Kidd, was a star player before making the transition to head coach without any prior coaching experience — though he did spend a few seasons away from the game in between, as opposed to a few days like Kidd did. After taking over as head coach of the Pacers in 1997, Bird stayed on for three seasons, leading Indiana to a pair of trips to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals. The Nets, who lost 93-86 to the Heat in Summer League play last night, obviously would love a similar run of success under Kidd, but Bird urged caution. “It’s not as easy as it looks, to tell you the truth,” Bird said with a laugh yesterday. “I have even more respect for the coaches I had over the years. “It’s a tough gig. It’s a lot of hours. It’s tough, it’s grinding. ... It was easier when you had the ball in your hands, and he’ll figure that out.” When Bird was hired in Indiana, he went out and hired a pair of trusted assistants — current Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle to run the offense, and longtime NBA assistant Dick Harter to run the defense — and heavily leaned on both of them. The Nets have gone a similar route, hiring Lawrence Frank, Kidd’s former coach with the Nets, to be his lead assistant, while also adding several other highly regarded assistants. “Preparation is everything,” Bird said. “I was very fortunate in that I had Harter and Carlisle, and that worked out perfectly for me. Rick ended up being one of [the NBA’s] best coaches, and Dick Harter is one of the best defensive minds I’ve ever been around, so the transition was pretty easy. ... You have a game plan, you go in there and talk about it, and you let them guys help you.You can’t walk in there thinking you know it all, because you don’t. I just was very fortunate to have two great guys, because it made the transition very easy for me.” With Carlisle and Harter on hand, Bird focused on managing the personalities and temperature of his locker room. That could be a way for the Nets to proceed with their staff, as well.
Bird a fine example for Kidd to follow
New York Post | Jul 9