Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Ever-Changing Sameness

I am not a big believer in the notion that people change.  We do not.  Not really.  Human beings are animals.  Animals are creatures of habit.  As animals, we shall fall back on our learned behavior far more often than not - our "same old, same old" if you will - when confronted by stress.   It is what caused one particularly bright member of the Tribe of Humans to observe that, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and anticipating a different result."   Professor Einstein spent a lifetime conducting experiments in the Human Laboratory.  The proofs to support his hypothesis are unassailable.  We do what we do not because it is successful but because it is comfortable.  'Tis the Devil we know after all.

Just the other day the Brooklyn f/k/a New Jersey f/k/a New York Nets came to grips with the fact that the face of their franchise - their head coach Jason Kidd - aspired to be the Master of the Nets' Domain.  It mattered not at all to Kidd apparently that the Nets have other individuals in their organizational hierarchy performing the functions he wanted entrusted to him - all of whom coincidentally occupy a spot in the aforementioned organizational hierarchy higher than Kidd.  He wanted their jobs AND his job. 

His ill-conceived and poorly executed palace coup did not go quite how he planned it however.  Less than four days after launching it, he found himself off to Milwaukee to become the head coach of a team that won fifteen games last season.  http://www.si.com/nba/2014/06/30/jason-kidd-milwaukee-bucks-new-jersey-nets.  If the Bucks were an NFL franchise, then their fifteen victories (in a sixteen-game regular season) would elevate them to juggernaut status.  However, as an NBA franchise their fifteen victories - in an eighty-two game regular season - made them something considerably less. 

I cannot fake giving a rat's arse about professional basketball.  If the Nets moved to Middlesex Borough and played their home games at the old OLMV gym for free, I would not go watch.  That being said, I could not help but laugh at the faux outrage emanating from Brooklyn regarding Kidd's purported treachery.  A lot of it sounded something akin to "How could he do this to us?"  The short answer:  Quite easily.  And for anyone in their organization who is a student of history, it should not have come as a surprise.

Once upon a decade or so ago, Jason Kidd was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the New Jersey Nets.  He immediately invigorated the team.  While he played in East Rutherford, the Nets made back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals.  Truth be told, I cannot recall whether they actually won a single game either year but I do know that they played for the title in consecutive seasons.  Kidd was credited, properly, with leading them to those dizzying heights.   His journey through the swamps of Jersey was far from smooth.

The coach who was here upon Kidd's arrival, Byron Scott, was really not his cup of tea so in spite of the fact that Scott coached the Nets to the NBA Finals, when the team struggled at the beginning of the following season, Kidd campaigned not-too-subtly for Scott to be fired.  He was.  Kidd's choice to take over the head coaching job, Lawrence Frank, was hired and led the Nets to their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.

Fast forward a couple of seasons to when the bloom starting to come off of the rose for "J Kidd" in NJ.  He decided that he simply did not want to play for the Nets any longer and went to extrarordinary measures to make not only his employer - but the world at large - aware of that fact.  To this day, there are people in the Nets organization who believe that he deliberately faked a headache in order to miss a game against the New York Knicks and to hasten his departure from the team.  Whether he did or not, not too terribly long after he had his Excedrin moment, he was able to see East Rutherford only through his rear-view mirror.

His Hall-of-Fame playing career ended after the 2012-13 season.  Shortly after his Knicks team was eliminated from the playoffs, the Nets hired him to be their head coach.  He had zero coaching experience yet after a brutally bumpy start (including insisting that the Nets hire his former mentor Lawrence Frank to be his #1 assistant to the tune of $1 Million a year for six years and then banishing Frank to the Tower of London less than one-fifth of the way into the season) he led the Nets into the playoffs.  They won their first-round series before getting crushed by Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the second round. 

So now the ever-loyal (to himself at the expense of all others) Kidd is the new coach in Milwaukee.  It mattered not to him apparently that when he began campaigning for that position (it was his bargaining chip in his dealings with the Nets) someone else held it.  Kidd wanted it.  Kidd obtained it.  Milwaukee discarded its coach, Larry Drew, as easily as the creators of Happy Days discarded Richie's older brother Chuck from the Cunningham family. 

Human beings do not change.  Not really.  Human beings are animals.  Animals are creatures of habit.  Do not feel inclined to take my word for it.  Ask Jason Kidd.  Or better yet, ask anyone who has ever made the mistake of believing that crap about a human's capacity for change who has then had his or her clock cleaned by J Kidd.  It is a list that continues to grow. 

And it is a list that shows little likelihood of stagnating...at least for the foreseeable future.

-AK  

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