When the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of trying by first-year head coach Jason Kidd.
Trying to turn around his team’s fortunes, Kidd “spilled” a drink on the court in the waning seconds of the game between the Nets and Lakers on Wednesday.
Kidd was talking to point guard Tyshawn Taylor with just 8.3 seconds left and the Lakers holding a slim 96-94 lead. Lakers guard Jodie Meeks had just sunk a free throw when Taylor angled toward the sidelines and collided with his coach, causing Kidd to spill the drink he had in his hands.
The “spill” allowed a stoppage in play, a major plus for the Nets, who were out of timeouts. While the spill was being cleaned up, Kidd drew up a last-second play in an attempt to tie the game. Paul Pierce’s three-point attempt with 2.2 seconds to play was no good, giving the Lakers a 99-94 victory.
On Thursday, the NBA saw right through Kidd’s ruse, fining him $50,000 for intentionally trying to stop the game.
Initially, Kidd said after the game that it was simply a mea culpa.
"Cup slipped out of my hand while I was getting Ty," Kidd said." "Sweaty palms. I was never good with the ball.
"In the heat of the battle, you're trying to get guys in and out of the game, and the cup fell out of my hand."
On Friday, after being notified of the fine, Kidd admitted to reporters that he did indeed “spill” his drink on purpose.
''It's about trying to win and those guys in that locker room, and I tried to put those guys in a position to get a basket, a good look and we did,'' he said.
It’s not the first time a coach has tried to win through dubious means, and likely won’t be the last. Kidd acknowledged how he learned of ways to intentionally cause stoppages.
''Um, just listening to other coaches or other owners talk about coaches and what they've done,'' he said.
Considering the poor start to the season by the rebuilt Nets’ roster, can Kidd really be held at fault?
The Nets went out and acquired veterans Pierce and Kevin Garnett during the offseason, and many experts predicted a tight battle between the Nets and New York Knicks atop the NBA Atlantic Division.
However, both teams have struggled mightily, with the Nets now 5-12 and the Knicks off to a disastrous 3-12 start. It’s hard to fault Kidd for trying to win by any means necessary.
Injuries have hurt the Nets as well. Star point guard Deron Williams has missed the last six games with an ankle injury, Jason Terry has been out of action with a knee injury and forward Andrei Kirilenko has been limited to just four games all season.
Still, much was expected with the offseason additions and with Kidd leading the way for the first time. Just how long Kidd will remain at the helm could now be in question.
Fortunately for Kidd and the Nets, they play in the absolutely awful Eastern Conference, where only two teams—the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers—have a record above .500. In fact, if the season were to end today, the Nets would only be a game-and-a-half out of the final playoff spot.
Still, a 5-12 record is not even close to what was expected, and Kidd will have to search for ways other than spilling a drink to turn his team around.