Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - Is Jason Kidd a Bilaam or a Korach?

Over the weekend a storm cloud appeared over Nets' Coach Jason Kidd's head. At first, there was a story about how the Nets had given Jason Kidd permission to speak to other teams about an opening in a higher position. But then as Sunday turned into Monday, the story evolved. No longer was the story about Jason Kidd having permission to look elsewhere. Instead, rumors began to circulate that Jason Kidd had been forced to look elsewhere after a failed power grab. The question was how and why.

For the uninitiated, here is a brief introduction to Jason Kidd and his meaning to the Nets. Prior to the 2001-2002 NBA season, Jason Kidd was traded to the nets. I can still recall listening to his first interview when he said that he expected that the Nets would win 50 games that season. I scoffed, but sure enough they won 52 games and went to the NBA finals. They would return to the finals in 2002-2003 and they slowly emerged from being the laughingstock of the East to a perennial playoff team.

However, even as the team was transitioning to respectability, there were issues surrounding Jason Kidd. After the two trips to the finals, the Nets started 2003-2004 slowly. There were rumors that the coach had lost control of the team. Forty two games into the season the Nets fired Byron Scott and promoted Lawrence Frank to head coach, a position that he had never held before. The same Nets team that was barely .500 under Scott would go on a 13 game winning streak after hiring Frank. And the legend of Jason Kidd "coach killer" grew.

Fast forward to the 2013-2014 season. The Nets hire the recently retired Jason Kidd as their head coach. A he had no prior head coaching experience, the Nets also hired Lawrence Frank as Jason Kidd's assistant coach and they make him the highest paid assistant coach in the league.  But three months into the season, he was demoted and removed from the bench, again because of clashes with Jason Kidd.

This would then bring us to the events of this past weekend. Stories began to percolate that Jason Kidd was either jealous of the contracts being given out to new coaches or that Kidd wanted more authority and the ability to make basketball personnel decisions. Regardless, the Nets brass said no and now, Kidd was forced to find another job.

The question I am pondering is whether Jason Kidd is a Korach or a Balak. Separated by Parshas Chukas, the two parshios contain stories of two men who aspired for...something. Korach was a levi who wanted power and he challenged Moshe after he saw that Moshe was the leader, Aharon was the Kohain Gadol and his older cousin was the Nasi of the tribe. Korach did not want for money and the challenge was not for financial gain. Things went badly for Korach and he was swallowed up by the earth for challenging Moshe.

Two parshios later, we read about Bilaam. Bilaam was a prophet whose powers rivaled Moshe. Bilaam had been an advisor to Pharaoh in Egypt and later commanded the capitol of Kush after he outsmarted its king. After being pad handsomely by Balak the King of Moab to curse the Jews, Bilaam was talked out of his plan by his donkey. In the end his curse became a blessing to the Jews.

In looking at the two personalities, I am still on the fence as to who I would identify Jason Kidd with. He definitely had the Korach aspect as he was jealous and wanted power. Still, the question of his motivation takes me somewhat out of the Korach category, since money also seemed to be part of Jason Kidd's motivation. 

I guess you can say that he had a little bit of both...

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