The Los Angeles Lakers have taken repeated hits after missing the playoffs despite LeBron James’ presence last season. Magic Johnson resigned without warning. The team fired Luke Walton, who they once considered the heir apparent to their great coaches of yesteryear. Tyronn Lue, Walton’s most logical replacement, pushed away from the negotiation table after being lowballed and asked to relinquish hiring power for his own assistant coaching staff.
Yet after all that, the worst mistake of all could be executing on their rumored interest in Jason Kidd, and voluntarily accepting the criminal baggage he would bring with him to any position within the organization.
Given the currently increasing and rightful awareness of domestic violence and criminal activity of the sort, and how Walton — the Lakers’ prior coach — just had allegations of sexual misconduct come to light, some from during his time with the team, hiring Kidd would imply that the Lakers either can’t learn from the past or even worse, just don’t care about serious allegations of this sort.
And make no mistake, Kidd’s past is serious, even when putting aside some of the non-criminal stuff.
In January 2001, Kidd was arrested for hitting his now ex-wife Joumana. He would eventually plead guilty to spousal abuse, pay a $200 fine and was ordered to take anger management training.
Joumana would, in 2007, file a lawsuit against Kidd that features allegations of further spousal abuse.
In the summer of 2012, Kidd signed with the New York Knicks and barely a week later crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a utility pole on Long Island and later pled guilty to driving while intoxicated.
With all of that considered, hiring Kidd would send a pretty poor message about the Lakers’ priorities. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has an opportunity to set an example here, and show that the Lakers don’t tolerate this kind of behavior, rather than ignore it in order to sign a fairly mediocre coach. This would seem an especially important definition of priorities given that Buss was reportedly offended merely by Kidd’s publicly campaigning for the job while Walton was still employed.
This is an organization that employed Kobe Bryant and hired Lance Stephenson despite serious allegations made against them, but hiring Kidd would be even worse given the leadership role being discussed, and the fact that he’s twice been convicted of serious crimes.
Buss is within her rights to hire Kidd. At the end of all the weird structural formatting of the current Lakers, it remains her call. But the Lakers desperately have to find an identity, and hiring Jason Kidd — whether as an assistant or as the head coach — would signal the establishment of a culture they should want no part of.
There are plenty of basketball reasons not to hire Kidd, but more importantly, this would be a message that, for the sake of a thoroughly mediocre-to-outright-poor coach, the Lakers are willing to look the other way in the face of legitimate criminal convictions. Not allegations, mind you, but convictions. It wouldn’t be okay to ignore a history like this for anyone in the organization, but for a job as replaceable as assistant coach, this would be a colossal mistake.
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