On Monday, the Milwaukee Bucks announced the firing of head coach Jason Kidd.
The Bucks are playing with a 24-22 record, standing in third place in their division and 7th in the Eastern conference. Though the team is currently holding a spot in the playoffs, the franchise felt they still needed to make a major change.
“We believe that a fresh approach and a change in leadership are needed to continue elevating our talented team towards the next level, bringing us closer to our goal of competing for championships,” said general manager Jon Horst in a statement.
“Jason led a historic turnaround during his first season and would guide our team to two playoff appearances. He also played a meaningful role in helping to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee. We thank him for all of his contributions and wish him the best.”
Horst however, was not the first person to give Kidd the news. Power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo called Kidd 15 minutes before his meeting with Horst, offering to help him save his job.
Kidd told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, “He called me and said, ‘Coach, this isn’t right what they’re about to do, but (they) are gonna let you go.’ ”
Kidd then replied that he “had a feeling that was gonna take place.”
To which Antetokounmpo replied: “What can I do? I’ll call the owners, I’ll call my agent.”
Kidd said he told him, “There’s nothing you can do. All you can do is tell the truth. That’s it.”
Kidd was thankful for Antetokounmpo’s loyalty and the time he spent working with him and coaching him. After the conversation, he went on to meet with Horst and team president Peter Feigin to officially receive the bad news.
After the firing became official, Antetokounmpo spoke to refused to elaborate on his conversation with Kidd, but did have some kind words about his time with the coach.
“He was a big part of my success. He trusted me, he put the ball in my hands, he motivated me on a daily basis, he pushed me to be great and not to be mediocre, …” Antetokounmpo told reporters.
“I was 19 when he came and he said he was going to put the ball in my hands. The first time I wasn’t ready. I told him, ‘Coach, I’m not ready to create and make plays for the team.’ He said, ‘OK, we’re going to take our time.’ The next year, he put the ball in my hands and I was ready. …
“But coming from a guy like Jason Kidd is big. He’s going to end up — whatever, if he got fired or not — he’s going to end up in the Hall of Fame. Having Jason Kidd as our coach was big.”
Assistant Joe Prunty has taken over as interim coach for the rest of the season. Under Prunty, the Bucks won on Monday against the Phoenix Suns 109-105. Their next game will be Friday, Jan. 26 against the Brooklyn Nets.
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