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Former teammates expect Kidd to succeed

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Former teammates, players and a former NBA assistant coach think the credibility a Hall of Fame career brings - and familiarity with today's players - will help Jason Kidd successfully transition into coaching.

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Kidd was named the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, less than two weeks after he ended a 19-year career as a point guard that included an NBA championship and two tours as a leader on the U.S. Olympic team. He's also No. 2 in career assists and steals in NBA history.

``He's going to have incredible credibility with his players, which is huge,'' said Brendan Suhr, a longtime NBA assistant coach under Chuck Daly, Hubie Brown and Lenny Wilkens.

Even the accountability as the man in charge won't be a problem, said Suhr, who is attending the National Basketball Players Association's Top 100 camp at the University of Virginia and teaching players how to start coaching careers.

``He'll be fine. He's handled accountability before,'' Suhr said, adding that one of Kidd's main priorities needs to be hiring experienced assistants to ``fill in the gaps that you don't have.''

Denver point guard Andre Miller said he was initially surprised when he heard Kidd was in the running for the Nets' job so soon after announcing his retirement, but the more he thought about, the more sense it seemed to make.

``When I first heard that they were considering it, I was like, `Wow, that's respect,''' Miller said at the camp. ``He's a hall of famer in everybody's mind and he's accomplished everything that you can accomplish as a point guard, as a person, in life and as a teammate. When you have that type of respect of your peers, and of management, coaches, you know the sky's the limit.

``You know that he knows how to play basketball and he knows what it takes, so it surprised me at first, but what better player to make that transition right away to show, `I can do this' by the things that he's done in his career.' It's good for the guys in that situation and learn from a guy like that.''

Miller's Nuggets teammate Andre Igoudala tried that in a game against Kidd's team.

``What made you throw that pass?'' Igoudala said he once asked Kidd during a game. He said he also picked Kidd's brain with a few questions when he and Kidd were panelists during a rookie transition program.

``It's not as crazy to me as people are making it,'' Igoudala said of the Nets' hire. ``You're seeing how the game is changing ... teams are bring in GMs who haven't played basketball. Analytical guys. Number crunchers. That's kind of the trend.

``Why not bring in a coach who just got done playing, especially a guy like Jason Kidd'' who has helped teammates get better throughout his career, Igoudala said. ``It wasn't just by his presence on the court but his presence every day, his presence off the court, in practice, making guys buy into something they weren't used to buckling down and doing, so I'm not surprised at all.''

That presence, former teammate Jerry Stackhouse said, will serve Kidd well, as will having spent time around younger players in the league. Stackhouse some of today's players get the superstar label via social media before they have truly earned their stripes and are ``a little different'' than emerging stars of the past.

``Jason Kidd's been in the locker room with the Michael Jordans, everybody to the Kyrie Irvings, so he's able to relate to them,'' said Stackhouse, who played with Kidd in Dallas and for the Nets this season. ``I think he's going to do a good job. ... It's not like he took on a bad group.''

The Nets, who fired Avery Johnson during the season and then rallied to make the playoffs under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, took the Chicago Bulls to Game 7 in the first round before being eliminated.

Kidd may be green, Miller said, but his career prepared him for this next step.

``Take a look at Mark Jackson,'' Miller said of the Golden State Warriors coach, and former NBA point guard for 17 seasons. ``When you play that many years, you've got to deal with egos, attitudes. You've got to deal with behaviors and to be able to know when to get a guy involved, to know when to pull a guy to the side, know when to be positive, know when to motivate, know when to criticize. All those things factor into being a leader and a coach, and I think Jason Kidd has that and I think Mark Jackson is a perfect example of how he's earned that respect from his peers, and his teammates and the players that play for him.

``That's really important.''

---

Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzj

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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