Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Net Effect: Jason Kidd is coach of the Brooklyn Nets

This appears in

Net Effect
by rick olivares

Jason Kidd’s arrival in New Jersey from Phoenix saw one of the greatest turnarounds in NBA history. From a dismal 26-56 record and sixth place in the Atlantic Division (12th in the Eastern Conference), the Nets’ 26-game improvement to 52-30 saw them win their division and knife through Indiana, Charlotte, and Boston in the playoffs before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in a lopsided sweep in the NBA Finals.

I was living in New Jersey at that time and remember buying tickets early that season.

The Nets started out well winning two before losing at rising power Detroit. Then they reeled in four wins in succession before heading home to the Continental Airlines Arena to face the New York Knicks.

The Nets were clearly galvanized by the arrival of Kidd. I remember the tabloids billing them as the “Ks” as they had a young and exciting core of Kerry Kittles, Keith Van Horn, and Kenyon Martin. They also had a young Richard Jefferson, Luscious Harris, Aaron Williams, and Jason Collins.

In their eighth match of the young season, their cross-river rivals, the New York Knicks as coached by Jeff Van Gundy, crossed the Hudson for the first of their four matches that year. The Knicks had that core of Charlie Ward, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Kurt Thomas, and Mark Jackson (who returned to the team that drafted him after playing for the Indiana Pacers for a few years).

They essentially were playing with an eight or nine-man rotation. Before coming over to the Garden State, they won two straight to go to 4-5. They were hoping to defeat their cross-state rivals and put an end to their early season woes. No matter what inroads the Nets had made, the Knicks were thought by many to still have enough to trump the upstarts.

I remember that match so well. I had purchased the ticket as a belated birthday gift for myself (it was November 16, 2001). I was seated at the lower section of the arena. There were a lot of Knicks fans at the game taunting and flaunting their “superiority” over the Nets.

The match was close as both teams battled through five early deadlocks and several lead changes. With the score tied at 12-all (after a wide-open Martin jumper), Kidd stole a lazy pass by Sprewell. He found van Horn on the run who scored on a layup.

Sprewell missed a jumper that Todd MacCulloch rebounded. The lumbering center found Kidd who was already sprinting forward and the point guard sent a picture perfect pass to Kittles for another easy basket. From there on it was off to the races as the Nets ran away with a 103-89 rout.

It was an incredible game and the few Nets fans in attendance began to cheer and jeer their vanquished foes. The Nets took all four of the season match-ups with the Knicks that season (three of them were laughers).

Despite the Nets’ success that year, Continental Airlines arena wasn’t filled that much. It took a mid-season report that the state was going to lose the team to Brooklyn before fans started turning out.

Previous to that, I’d get cheap seats then by halftime would be allowed to go down (because the empty seats looked bad on television).

Kidd led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances but each time they came away as bridesmaids. During the 2001-02 season, I thought that Kidd should have been named the Most Valuable Player (it went to Tim Duncan) as he led the previously miserable Nets to the finals.

One other thing I will always remember about this time was how Nets fans finally came out in force (and how a lot of New Yorkers would come over to root for their neighbor) that was suddenly a force in the association.

Kidd played for four teams in his 17-year NBA career but it is with the Nets where he spent the longest time (he did win his only championship with the Dallas Mavericks).

Now the greatest Net since Julius Erving is back, not in the Meadowlands, but in the team’s new home court of Brooklyn in the swanky Barclays Center. The Nets did make good on their move (much to the dismay of New Jersey natives). And Kidd is the team’s head coach of the team that he once revitalized. The question is, will lightning strike twice?

The Nets aren’t a lowly team. They finished second to the Knicks in the Atlantic Division (and fourth in the Eastern Conference) with a 49-33 record. They made the playoffs but were ousted in the first round by the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls.

The now? Five years after he last donned a Nets jersey? Obviously, the onus is to win now.

The addition of ex-Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry will add a lot of veteran toughness to the Nets that includes All-Star guard and Olympian Deron Williams, former All-Star Joe Johnson, and center Brook Lopez in the line-up.

Kidd was a teammate of Deron Williams during the Redeem Team’s 2008 quest for Olympic Gold. His veteran leadership and savvy is seen as a means of placating Williams who will no doubt fit into the Nets long term plans.

But the two biggest concerns for Kidd right now are:

1)    To keep his veterans fit and rested for the long grind of the 82-game sked. We all saw last season how Spurs coach Greg Popovich rested his veterans Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili every opportunity to rest even when fined by the league. They faced a Miami Heat team that is at least six years younger than them. Were in not for a offensive meltdown late in Game Six, the Spurs might have won the fifth title of the Popovich era.

2)    To juggle all these egos. With the exception of Lopez, Williams, Johnson Terry, Garnett, and Pierce were all the main men in their previous squads. Who gets how many shots? Who takes the last shot of the game? Who is boss in the locker room?

3)    To form a competent and competitive enough bench to spell their vets a breather. This isn’t 2007 when Garnett first joined the Boston Celtics. That was six seasons ago. However, I agree with the Indiana Pacers’ Larry Bird who says that Garnett and Pierce still have a lot in the tank. And the change of scenery will do them good.

Kidd certainly has the credentials (as a player) but this is his first outing as head coach.

It is certainly going to be interesting to watch what Kidd’s Net effect will be this coming season.


  1. Rick Baby, magpakalbo ka na rin for zero, 0-3!!!LOL

  2. Sir ric , gawa poh kayo ng article about the gilas squad . galing po kasi ng insights nyo . :)