Sports can be a cold-hearted business, and we learned how icy cold that heart could be when we heard what happened Monday to Larry Drew.
Here was Drew in Milwaukee the past couple of days, sitting around nervously and listening to all the discussion about Jason Kidd, malcontented coach of the Brooklyn Nets, coming in to replace him as Bucks coach.
Not that Drew had done a lousy job in coaching the Bucks. Hell, neither Gregg Popovich nor Doc Rivers nor Phil Jackson could have squeezed many more victories out of that lemon-of-a-basketball team than Drew did last season. Yet he was a walking dead man who knew he was going to the gallows.
For no matter how the negotiations with the disloyal and backstabbing Kidd turned out, Drew had to know that the front office of the Bucks didn’t have confidence in him. Team officials were shopping his job while he was still sitting in it.
In the general scope of hoops things, an NBA team fires its coach before it goes hunting for his replacement. That seems the classy thing to do. That surely seems to be the fair thing to do as well.
But what is classy about the doings of a sports franchise that is mind-numbingly inept. The Bucks haven’t been a team that mattered since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played there.
That ought to tell you how hapless the franchise had been, because who recalls the Abdul-Jabbar years in Milwaukee?
So don’t cry a river of tears for Larry Drew, one year into a three-year deal. He should land another NBA coaching gig, and it can’t possibly be worse than the one he held with the no-account Bucks. And regardless where that next job is, he’ll be with an organization with a lot more class.
Now, on to Kidd, a feckless man with the thinnest of coaching pedigrees. Yet, for some reason, he became a coach in demand — the savior of the month in a profession that keeps finding ways to reward men, who have no experience or little success, with fat contracts.
We saw that happen with Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher. Both fetched coaching contracts that made people shake their heads in wonderment. What did either of them do to become $4.5 million men?
Not a thing.
Yet neither did Jason Kidd, who didn’t take the Nets as far as a coach with a bit of experience would have done. Kidd had a big payroll and deep roster, but his 44-38 Nets weren’t much of a challenge for the Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers.
Still, the Bucks didn’t care. They saw him as more than what Drew was, and they gave up two second-round picks to get Kidd.
Second-round picks aren’t much to give up, which tells you about how valuable Kidd was. Refusing to concede power to him, the Nets were willing to let Kidd go for next to nothing, because they had to know they could do well without him.
So Kidd’s no longer with the Nets; he’s now their former coach after a single season. He’s coach of the Bucks; they deserve what little he will give them.
For he can’t be significantly better than Larry Drew, who handled the classless way he lost his job like a professional. That’s not what anybody can say about Kidd, who orchestrated this drama for one simple reason: He wanted more power than he signed up to get.
With Kidd around, it might be wise for everyone in the Milwaukee front office to watch his back. For he’ll push any of them off a cliff if it means he’ll get what he hasn’t earned.
Cold-hearted. Yeah. And cold-blooded, too.
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