While Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd might have championship pedigree as a player, his lengthy history of disturbing off-court behavior and questionable coaching acumen are the elephants in the room that everyone seems to conveniently ignore. However, in sports writer Mirin Fader’s newly released biography, Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an MVP, we learn of the alarming lengths that the Hall of Fame point guard was willing to go during his brief stint as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in order to propel the team into eventual NBA champions.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Detailed in a new biography “Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an MVP” by Mirin Fader, Kidd supposedly made the players cancel their travel plans in order to hold a Christmas Eve practice after not approving of their performance the night before.
The Bucks lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 23, 2014, and following the game Kidd lashed out at the team. The Bucks also had a players-only session behind closed doors in the locker room for 50 minutes after the game, according to the Journal Sentinel’s recap of the game that night.
“Do you think this was a winnable game?” Kidd asked former center Zaza Pachulia. “Yes, it was a winnable game,” Pachulia said.
“And do you think we deserve the next two days off?” said Kidd. Fader said Pachulia couldn’t believe Kidd had put him in that situation, “threatening to ruin Christmas.”
“We didn’t give enough effort. But at the same time, this is a holiday. Christmas is important to our families. ... Guys have made plans,” Pachulia said.
Kidd then turned to former forward Jared Dudley to ask his opinion, to which Fader said Dudley gave a “diplomatic answer.”
“See you guys tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.” proclaimed Kidd.
“We booked flights to different places!” yelled one player.
“I don’t care. You guys get paid to do a job, so you’re doing your job tomorrow. Things change.”
The ensuing practice on Christmas Eve—again this was on Christmas Eve—was three hours of torture that included excessive running “like a college team,” weight-lifting, and pool exercises. Players endured this “psychological warfare” until their bodies could no longer bear any more torment.
“I don’t think I’ve done that since I left J-Kidd,” former Bucks guard Brandon Knight said. “It was not normal.”
Throughout this ordeal, Kidd berated former Bucks center Larry Sanders, calling him “pathetic,” “a terrible player,” and a “piece of shit.” He also pushed Sanders so hard during that Christmas Eve practice that Sanders, who was cramping from head-to-toe, asked to be excused to the bathroom. Kidd obliged, but warned, “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll wait then run some more.”
Sanders then left practice and was admitted to a hospital, where he stayed overnight. He never played for the Bucks again and has since detailed his battles with anxiety and depression.
“I had a full-body convulsion. My body broke down,” Sanders said in the book. “Physically I couldn’t take it, and mentally I really couldn’t take it.”
On Twitter, as excerpts from the book began to circulate, basketball fans voiced their outrage at Kidd’s dangerous methodology and clearly abusive behavior that has also been reflected in his personal life. In 2001, he was arrested for suspicion of domestic abuse after admitting to striking his now ex-wife, who police reported had a “swollen lip and was bleeding inside her mouth” upon their arrival.
Despite the fact that these instances allegedly occurred years ago, and Kidd has since served as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, if I’m Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban I’m thinking long and hard about retaining the recently hired 10-time All-Star as the head coach of my franchise. It should be noted that Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall previously came to Kidd’s defense in June to address his history of abusive behavior.
“I told him, ‘I know it’s uncomfortable, but it is what it is,’” Marshall told the Dallas Morning News. “‘It’s part of the history of the Mavs, so I have to address it. And it’s part of my personal history.’
She added, “There were multiple reasons we had to do this. By the time I hung up the phone, I didn’t find any reason not to hire him. None. And of course, that’s not discounting anything that’s happened in the past. Domestic violence is horrible. I lived through it.”