Milwaukee owners owe apologies for sorry tactics in Kidd’s hiring


VIDEO: Bucks bring Jason Kidd on board as its next head coach

The first thing Marc Lasry is going to have to do is apologize.

Apologize, not for his actual hiring of Jason Kidd to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ new head coach – though that might be in order soon enough, based on the NBA’s time-honored W-L standards – but for the manner in which he did it.

That is to say, the abrupt, secretive and unprofessional way Lasry, one of the team’s new co-owners, went courting his buddy Kidd, trampling all over business etiquette and even ethics by filling one job that wasn’t vacant and throwing several more held by longtime respected basketball executives into immediate limbo.

Lasry, who bought the Bucks this spring with hedge-fund partner Wesley Edens, already has apologized to Larry Drew, NBA sources confirmed, for the public undercutting that played out over about 48 hours. Actually the process took a little longer: Drew was in the Bucks’ war room on Draft night Thursday in suburban Milwaukee while Lasry and Edens were at the event at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Drew was at No. 2 pick Jabari Parker‘s introductory news conference Friday while the owners clandestinely interviewed Kidd in New York. The ham-handed maneuver leaked out Saturday and finally, on Monday, the Bucks and the Nets agreed on compensation in the form of two future second-round draft picks.

Drew still has about $5 million coming over the next two seasons, which could soothe bruised feelings from rude treatment for a lot of us. Still, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, and Lasry, the point man on the hire, botched this badly. He rewarded Kidd for all the wrong reasons – the former All-Star point guard wanted more money and power within the Nets organization but got rebuffed, so he turned to his former financial adviser with the shiny new team – and he violated an unwritten code against hiring before firing by which even sports’ most ruthless power brokers abide.

Lasry might claim ignorance on that, being new to this fish bowl, but then Kidd should have informed him. Frankly, Kidd owes Drew an apology too because crossing the informal but well-understood line among coaches.

Lasry needs to come with some fat, sincere mea culpas to Bucks general John Hammond and front-office execs David Morway, Dave Babcock and Billy McKinney. They all might find it harder to work this season, constantly glancing over their shoulders, than it was enduring last season’s 15-67.

Contract extensions, along with the apologies, might help. You say Kidd has been hired only as the head coach? That’s what the Nets thought they were doing 12 months ago, and look where we are.

For all we know, plans already are in place for a more complete coup. But it would be nice if Kidd – looking like a me-first person after a Hall of Fame-worthy career as a pass-first point guard – proved for a couple more seasons that he can do one job well before grabbing at a cpuple more. Ditto for staying out of trouble in the domestic abuse and DUI categories. (It’s between him and his bosses, meanwhile, whether he gets an escalator clause in his contract guaranteeing him a raise every time some other team hires an ex-point guard as a coach.)

Parker probably is good without an apology. The forward from Duke and Chicago native has been so gracious and humble since the Bucks selected him that he’ll no doubt let Lasry off the hook for squashing the excitement of his arrival, the franchise’s giddiest point since the spring of 2010’s “Fear The Deer” playoff run.

But Lasry and Edens should reserve their biggest, gooiest admissions of wrongdoing for Bucks/NBA fans in Milwaukee. As much as the two private-equity billionaires have done in securing the team in the community – purchasing it for a price ($550 million) that’s whopping by anyone’s but Steve Ballmer‘s standards and moving ahead with new arena plans – this was a stylistic faux pas of the highest order.

And hopefully, only that. If this is indicative of the way the co-owners plan to operate going forward – pushing into basketball decisions simply because they can – the Bucks likely are headed sideways more than up. That’s been proven time and again as owners across all sports try and fail to replicate the George Steinbrenner model.

The Bucks are Lasry’s and Edens’ toy. They can do what they want. No one questions the chain of command. But this isn’t a board room, executive suite or trading floor, the venues where they amassed their fortunes. There’s a huge public trust and ownership involved, from season-ticket holders in VIP seats and the folks who dig deep to attend one Bradley Center game each season to the lowliest concessions worker. Milwaukee mixes in a little bit of paranoia, too, and simple expectations.

The fans deserve to know, in making their Bucks buy decisions, whether this is going to be standard operating procedure for two exuberant owners, or a hard lesson learned that won’t soon be repeated.

A few “I’m sorry” remarks delivered in a sincere, timely and public fashion – perhaps at Kidd’s introductory presser in the coming days – could smooth this over, along with some time and a sense that Kidd is focused on coaching rather than career-climbing.

Otherwise, the Bucks situation simply will remain sorry.

23 Comments

  1. Jay says:

    Some of these comments just reinforce what kind of society we live in. Nobody is saying Larry Drew is a great coach (and by the way, he did EXACTLY what they wanted.. they tanked so they could get a Top 3 draft pick and one of the elite guys). There are certain things you do and there are certain things you DON’T do. In the NBA coaching fraternity, you DON’T interview and manipulate to get a job that isn’t open. For comparison, Stan van Gundy wouldn’t even TALK about jobs that weren’t open. That’s called respect and professionalism. It’s not about Larry Drew having job security. It’s about showing respect and behaving in an ETHICAL manner, concepts that are lost on most of our society. Everything is me, me, me. Anything goes as long as I get MY way. Pitiful.

  2. It’s simple:
    You don’t go behind somebody’s back. First, you fire. Than you hire! Business does not mean that there are no rules.

  3. Connor says:

    LakerFan: Does D’Antoni need to apologize to the Lakers for his lack of “work ethic” because he resigned without finishing the last year of his contract? Heh, he had one more year of his contract to complete, which he chose not to. Was that due to your ignorant definition of lack of “work ethic?”

  4. LakerFan says:

    I really feel sorry about the ignorant fan base that have no idea what “work ethic” is and still comment in here. I have no intention of explaning it to them etiher.

    All I want to say is, I’d be very pleased if Bucks could only fill 1/4 of arena seats to the Milwaukee fans. This will show the billionare owners that you can’t do whatever you want without facing the consecuences. If that wouldn’t happen, I’d be equally delighted too if Kidd screws them aswell. Either way, I want that organization to fail. Not because I’m a Lakers fan, but as a sports fan and a person that has “at least some sort of respect to work ethic”.

  5. Connor says:

    I don’t see the point of your column. Coach Larry Drew won 15 games last year out of 82. That gives him job security? He also will be making $5 million over the next two years for doing nothing. 300 million Americans would agree to that and be very happy. No apologies are needed to anyone. Jason Kidd wants to coach a winner. The Nets wouldn’t let him make drastic moves to right the ship so Kidd has every right to move on, knowing he tried to help the Nets. The Bucks will be a much better team than the Nets this year.

  6. Tim says:

    As if Larry did not know he was going to be fired in the first place…come on man! They couldn’t do any worse by hiring J Kidd. Everyone knew that the Bucks needed a complete overhaul, starting with ownership all the way down to the coaching staff. Since we have $ now the organization can make that happen. WAAAAAAAA-WAAAAAAA-WAAAAAA! (Cry Baby)!

  7. dunkmycat7 says:

    And this sis why the Bucks will remain one of the sorriest franchises in NBA history. Total amateurs, total mickey mouse organization, and now they get more of just what they deserve with this mentally unbalanced coach. Ridiculous..

  8. First World Problems says:

    Should I call the waaaaaaahmbulance now or later? Why is anyone surprised that this is going on? The business side of the NBA is so freaking cutthroat that even though this sort of thing apparently doesn’t happen that often, to an outsider considering NBA business as a big picture, it doesn’t seem all that out-of-character. Fits right in.

    I feel worse for a veteran player who gets traded suddenly in the middle of a season and has to either live without his family or move them suddenly to some city where he never wanted to live.

    But even then (!) these people are making millions. Their lives are better than 99% of us. Deal with it.

  9. stop whining says:

    this article is complete hypocrisy

  10. James McCormick says:

    Wow, I just don’t know what to say. Maybe they should just give up and get a new Job.

  11. Markus71 says:

    What is your agenda here Mr.Aschburner? Why do the Owners need to apologize to everyone, for sacking Larry Drew? You said they apologized to Larry already, was it for the manner of the sacking? Or the sacking itself? I don’t know. -Maybe this was a Very Good decision & yes maybe more sackings are forth coming. Sounds like they want success for their Ball Club. Jason Kidd may very well be the answer to that success. Sounds like everyone’s going to be hearing about your ‘Whining about Jason Kidd’ for a, too long a time!

  12. LaCrampa says:

    dirty and cheap… these 2 are fine together

  13. Nicolo Quimbo says:

    Just when the future of Milwaukee seems bright, they hired Kidd. Oh well.

  14. Carlo says:

    Yes, NBA is showbiz and franchises are privately owned companis whose owners can do whatever they want of.

    BUT, there’s a thing called fairness and if you cannot understand it – or if you think it’s negligible – there’s no way to explain it to you.

    Also, franchises, as any other kind of company, have to sell their product. “Unfortunately” for Lasry&Co, their clients are so-called “fans”, that is a kind of client with a particular emotional attraction to “the product”. Then, you have to compete with other 29, many of whom have a better product.

    Anyway, they main outtake of this sad story is this: after what he did in time to B.Scott, L.Frank and the Nets management, I don’t feel Kidd’s career in the NBA will be “easy” in the future. Hope for him to get hold of his new Miwaukee spot, ’cause it won’t be easy to find another.

  15. Luke says:

    You sound bitter, sad and pathetic.

  16. OMG!! Who cares!

    Did you all forget this is the NBA where there are few loyalties and even fewer opportunities. How many excellent coaches get fired each year after getting their teams into the playoffs? If the Bucks want to become relevant by bringing in a big name coach with a winning resume after getting their best draft since Bogut, then by all means get fans talking about you again. Go Bucks, “Fear the Deer”, I’ll sure be watching Parker and the young team. Who knows, Kidd might finally help Brandon Knight realize his potential. This is show-biz ya’ll, if you didn’t know, now you know. LOL

    • Queirós says:

      “If the Bucks want to become relevant by bringing in a big name coach with a winning resume “.. As a player, what has Kidd done as a coach?

  17. sv says:

    And Larry Drew owe apologies for the way he achieved with team just 15 wins in East

  18. Flabingo says:

    What Lasry did is worse than what Donald Sterling did,since we can excuse Sterling for is mental incompetence. Shameful.
    Compare his actions to the ownership of the Spurs.

  19. Kimmy says:

    Larry Drew may very well be relieved. And he still gets paid in full. See you on NBATV!

  20. joe says:

    I totally agree with this… It would be nice to have this article hand delivered to Lasry, and make sure he reads it too :)

  21. Chuck says:

    Three sleaze balls in a pod obviously deserving each other. That’s why franchises like this fail as the owners are star gazers. Let’s see how JKidd does with this material as he had two hall of farmers, Deron Williams and other guys who would have all started with the Bucks.