Jason Kidd ripped over coaching style in Giannis biography: 'Psychological warfare'

By , Audacy Sports

Basketball Hall of Famer Jason Kidd is apparently depicted as a mean-spirited petty tyrant in a newly released biography of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Kidd, who coached two-time MVP Giannis and the Bucks for four years from 2014-18, is portrayed as a hard-driving disciplinarian with little regard for his players' personal lives or their health, according to excerpts of the book -- titled "Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an MVP" -- that surfaced this week on social media.

In one troubling incident, Kidd, who starred as a player with the Mavericks, Suns and Nets before transitioning into a coaching career, abruptly scheduled a last-minute full-team practice on Christmas Eve after he felt like his team hadn't put forth a sufficient effort in a Dec. 23 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, in a game that Kidd fumed was "winnable."

The 10-time All-Star put at least a couple of his veteran players on the spot, the book said, asking them in front of their teammates whether the team deserved to be off on Christmas Eve after the loss. After the players danced around Kidd's question, the coach informed them practice would be at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. The players objected, explaining they already had travel plans to see their families, according to the book, but Kidd was apparently unmoved.

"I don't care," he said. "You guys get paid to do a job, so you're doing your job tomorrow. Things change."

At practice the next day, Bucks players were made to run "like a college team," and Kidd reportedly hounded former reserve big man Larry Sanders, calling him a "piece of shit" and a "terrible player."

"I don't think I've done that since I left J-Kidd," former Bucks guard Brandon Knight told the book's author, Mirin Fader. "It was not normal."

After the three-hour practice, which consisted mostly of demanding conditioning drills which left players doubled over, Kidd then insisted they work out in the weight room and in the pool. He reportedly continued to ride Sanders, calling him "pathetic," with Sanders recalling that the episode broke him down physically and mentally, causing him "full-body convulsions."

"Everybody was so tired that nobody was thinking about Christmas," former backup center Zaza Pachulia said in the book. "We didn't have energy left to open gifts."

Sanders said he's in a much better place now, and, amazingly, conceded that Kidd's not a bad person, "but mentally, he kinda like brain fucked me a little."

In a separate incident, Kidd apparently once blamed Giannis for a blown defensive assignment despite the All-Star's insistence that he wasn't the culprit. After reviewing game film at halftime, it was confirmed Giannis was correct -- but Kidd still benched him for the second half anyway.

In another bizarre episode a couple years later, the team was made to run after reserve center Thon Maker was late for practice owing to a snag with his cell phone. Maker was the only Bucks player who used a cell phone other than an iPhone, which apparently infuriated Kidd and represented a lack of team unity.

One former player described Kidd's coaching style as "psychological warfare." When asked to comment on Kidd, most players and coaches first responded by asking whether they were on or off the record, the book claims.

Despite the revelations made in the book by former Bucks players, Giannis credited Kidd after he won the championship in July with helping "push him" to becoming the player he is today.

Lakers star LeBron James also appeared to enjoy his time with Kidd in Los Angeles, saying he hated to lose him but is "happy" for him to get another shot at being a head coach.

Kidd's coaching career began in Brooklyn, where he led the Nets to the playoffs -- including a first-round win over the Toronto Raptors -- in his first season after retiring as a player. He seemed to be a polarizing figure in the Nets organization, though, and left after just one year for Milwaukee. After four years on the Bucks' bench, Kidd has since joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant for two years, where he won an NBA title.

The Mavericks hired Kidd to be their next head coach this summer. During his opening press conference, Kidd was asked what he had learned in his previous coaching stops while he was with the Lakers?

Prior to his hiring in Dallas, Kidd also spoke with Marc. J Spears of The Undefeated about the mistakes he made while he was at the helm in Milwaukee and Brooklyn.

“Just relax and enjoy the growth of the team,” Kidd said, when asked what he would tell himself if he could go back in time. “The growth of the individual players. And not be so hard, and so wanting them to be perfect. …

“The biggest thing I would say in Milwaukee or Brooklyn is the way the message is delivered could have been different. Not so hard. Not so rough. A little bit more fun to it. As a competitor, you get lost into, ‘What can I do to help them win?’ And that’s all they can hear, is that, ‘He just wants to win.’ Where’s the fun? Let’s build this thing and enjoy it. You play as a player for a championship and you coach for a championship. But there’s also different parts of different environments that you are trying to build in a culture.”

The former Rookie of the Year and NBA champion's alleged abusive coaching behavior seems to square with a troubling pattern in his life off the court. He has had at least a couple of run-ins with the law, including pleading guilty to domestic abuse of his former wife in 2000, as well as a guilty plea to driving while intoxicated in Southampton, N.Y., in 2012.