Brooklyn Nets

Jason Kidd Was Deron Williams' Favorite Player

Jun 13, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd poses for photos with guard Deron Williams during a press conference at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 13, 2013

Deron Williams wasn't always an elite-level point guard.

Before all the fame, fortune and accolades came his way, he was just a kid doing what kids do. And part of the process of the simple life known as childhood, as any hoops hopeful can attest to, involves him idolizing a star athlete. In Williams' case: Jason Kidd.

He tracked Kidd's every move, logged countless hours of pretend play imagining the possibilities of one day sharing the floor on the same basketball stage as his hero.

But that's where the familiarities between Williams and the millions of wannabe ballers stops. Those days of pretending are over. He's now realizing his childhood dream, although it's not quite as he imagined it.

"He was my favorite player growing up," Williams told New York Daily News scribe Stefan Bondy. "Now, I'm being coached by him. It's funny how things work out."

Funny is certainly one way of putting it. But unimaginable seems like a better description of the way this unlikely partnership was formed.

Just a few weeks ago, Williams and Kidd were NBA peers, even rivals. Kidd suited up for the New York Knicks, a franchise embedded in the Empire State's history. Williams played for the upstart Brooklyn Nets, an organization lacking in true NBA New York City roots prior to last season.

But my...how things have changed in the last week. Kidd, despite being just nine days into retirement after a 19-year playing career, was officially named as the new coach of the Nets on Wednesday night, via ESPN.com.

Williams is excited about the chance to play for his former favorite player, but there's still some feelings of cautious optimism, too.

"I think it's a risk by taking him," Williams said to Bondy. "Nobody knows if he's going to be a great coach. It's a risk, but I think he's somebody we can grow with. And I'm excited about the ways he's going to help me as a player and a leader."

And Williams probably isn't the only one taking a cautious approach here. Brooklyn took a massive gamble by handing the keys to the franchise over to someone whose only real coaching background involved effectively relaying his coach's message to his teammates.

At the same time, no player means more to Brooklyn's short-term success than Williams. He's still an All-Star talent, even if he missed out on the festivities last season for the first time in four years.

He hasn't always seen eye to eye with his former coaches (see: Jerry Sloan, Avery Johnson). So, if Kidd carries the kind of voice he'll listen to, maybe this was simply a gamble the Nets had to make.

How many of us have the chance to even meet our childhood idols in our lifetimes? And how would your long-held perceptions change if that person would one day become your boss?

It could be a rewarding experience, or perhaps a disastrous one. Like it or not, Williams is about to find out.

 

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