The transition from player to coach is often a difficult one.
And it has been no different for rookie head coach Jason Kidd.
The Brooklyn Nets hired Kidd on June 12, 2013 and, with Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov having invested heavily in the off-season, the Nets were expected to mount a challenge this year.
But a difficult start saw the Nets finish 2013 with a 10-21 record. A sequence that brought increased scrutiny for the 10-time former All-Star.
However since the New Year the Nets, and Kidd, have overseen a reversal in fortunes; going 6-1 after their 127-110 win in London against the Atlanta Hawks last Thursday.
And while in London, one of those brought in in the off-season, Paul Pierce, was quick to defend his coach.
As their performances, and record improves the future Hall-of-Famer was convinced Kidd was the right man to be in charge:
“You know Jason, you can see he is getting the coaching thing down,” he told GiveMeSport.
“It’s tough when you come off the court straight into head coaching.
“It’s rare that you see that.”
Asked how it was working with a new coach after so many years with Doc Rivers at the Celtics, Pierce had nothing but praise for Kidd:
“It’s been great. It’s been great actually.
“You can just see how he has matured from player to coach.
“He is a natural born leader. You saw it with the teams he played on.”
Another player who has played a major part in the Nets recent improvement is Shaun Livingston.
The point guard has seen increased game time after the injury to regular starter Deron Williams, and is loving working with Kidd:
“He has played the point guard for twenty years, one of the best at it.
“So for me to get a chance to play up under him, and pick his brain, and learn from him – I’m grateful.”
Today marks the midway point in Kidd’s first season as a head coach and, while it began difficultly, he clearly has the full support of his players.
And he will be hoping to win around some more fans tonight as the Nets tip-off against rivals the New York Knicks on MLK day.
The Nets currently occupy the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of tonights game.