Forward says former Brooklyn Nets coach "couldn't handle" New York pressure.
They don’t call him “AK-47” for nothing.
Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko took some serious shots at the team’s former head coach Jason Kidd over the controversial way he reportedly left the organization to become the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks last month.
In an interview with SovSport, a Russian sports tabloid, Kirilenko said Kidd succumbed to the pressure of coaching under the New York City spotlight.
"So the pressure is huge. And Kidd couldn’t handle it. Or maybe didn’t want to,” Kirilenko told SovSport, as reported by Sports Illustrated. "Basically he was not able to do much of anything, if you look at the big picture — we have to admit that fact.”
Giving credit where it’s due, Kidd was able to coach the Nets to a 44-38 record in the Atlantic division and a seven-game, first-round victory over the Toronto Raptors before falling in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat during the Eastern Conference semifinals. And that was without the services of center Brook Lopez, who suffered a season-ending broken foot in December.
Still, Kidd left unceremoniously last month in what many members of the media believed was a purposely-failed power play in trying to supplant Nets general manager Billy King as a cover for a planned escape route from Brooklyn. The Nets wound up trading Kidd to Milwaukee for two second-round draft picks. It was his first and only year of coaching and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov had invested nearly $200 million in Kidd’s first roster.
"Nothing was ever good enough for Jason," one league source close to the situation told ESPN at the time he allegedly orchestrated his way out of Brooklyn for Milwaukee. "He always had to be appeased on personnel, and he would play Monday morning quarterback if it didn't work out. It was like a kid constantly asking for new toys to stay happy.... If he doesn't get what he wants he sits in the corner and sucks his thumb and pouts until he gets it, and he doesn't care about the consequences."
After Paul Pierce signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Washington Wizards last week, Brooklyn still hopes to return the services of power forward Kevin Garnett. Under new head coach Lionel Hollins, the Nets hope to return to the playoffs with a healthy Lopez and Deron Williams.
Despite all the Nets’ changes, Kirilenko believes Brooklyn can contend for an NBA championship.
"We intend to seriously compete for the title," Kirilenko said. “Everyone is waiting for a championship victory from Brooklyn."
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(Photos from left: Scott Halleran/Getty Images, Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)