D-Fish & J-Kidd: A Word Regarding Those Who Have Never Coached

In no other sport do first time head coaches enter the league with absolutely zero overall coaching experience. Why the NBA cherishes the name over X’s and O’s.

Kidd and Fisher both went from uniform to suit in just a few months.

Two of the youngest NBA coaches have striking parallels. Pics courtesy of JRN and ESPN.

In what professional sport can a player retire, and within a few months be considered, and ultimately selected, as the head coach?

If you guessed the NBA, you were right.

First time head coaches with zero overall coaching experience continue to become more prevalent and widespread across the league. Mark Jackson was hired a few years ago by Golden State after spending a few seasons announcing for ESPN. Jackson’s coaching resume was empty, however. Just this past year, Steve Kerr (NY’s number one target), accepted a position to become the Warriors Head Coach. Kerr’s resume of coaching experience? Nada. Ironically, Kerr will replace Mark Jackson.

Kerr and Jackson, conversely, were out of the game for several years before attaining their head coaching gigs. Nearly eighteen months ago, Jason Kidd’s story was quite different. Kidd became the third NBA Coach to become head coach after retiring from his playing career the season before. The hiring by the Brooklyn Nets – a franchise desperate to reach the pinnacle of on-court success but more importantly off-court attention, really came as no surprise to me. Although the season was considered a failure by most, winning just 44 games with a team of lofty expectations, it clearly took Kidd some time to adjust to coaching before gaining success towards the end of the season. To Kidd’s credit, Brooklyn did win a playoff series. The rocky ride with Brooklyn lasted just one season. The all-time great point guard now heads to Milwaukee, where he hopes for a more consistent and long-term approach with a young Bucks team featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.

Derek Fisher, hired in May by the Knicks, will most likely have a similar adjustment trajectory to Kidd. The parallels are striking. Both historic point guards (although Kidd obviously the much better player), retiring just a few months before taking over the head coaching position of a professional basketball team in New York. Pressures for both in the media capital of the world are obvious. Kidd, with an impulsive Russian Owner hanging over his head, and Fisher has no bargain hanging over his: Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in sports history.

However, unlike Kidd, Fisher already has a few built in excuses. Most do not expect the offense to operate at full capacity until at least January of 2015, judging by the historically slow implementation of the triangle offense. Also, the Knicks have a good amount of new players, including a new starting point guard (Jose Calderon) and center (Samuel Dalembert) that should take a fine-tuning period regardless of the coach in charge.

All things considered, talent, coaching, and competition my expectations for Fisher and this 2014-2015 Knicks team is about 42 wins. This should be good enough for a 7th or 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.

How do you think Fisher will fare in his first coaching season? Will Kidd be better off in Milwaukee? Leave us a comment below, or reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook.

About Tyler Michels

Tyler is an NC State alum living in Raleigh, NC. Growing up in Northwest New Jersey, Tyler developed a love for New York sports teams, driving his desire to become a writer. In his free time, Tyler can probably be found on a golf course.


  1. Patrick Ewing has been an Assistant Coach around the league trying to get a head-coaching gig for a good decade but former players with no coaching experience get big time jobs with no issues. It’s interesting how putting in time to learn the craft and gaining valuable experience is irrelevant for some coaching prospects. Ewing isn’t the most attractive head coach candidate for teams, but you would think that large of a gap in experience would mean something to NBA front offices with a vacancy.

    • Tyler Michels says:

      Great point, Tim. Ewing was definitely someone who came to mind that is a pretty big name but has never been considered by the Knicks and has been passed on by several other NBA teams. Pretty amazing. What makes someone like Fisher and Kidd so attractive as a head coaching candidate? Obviously not experience. So, maybe winning rings as a player, and being a point guard, are prerequisites?

Speak Your Mind