Nets General Manager Billy King admitted that his team is taking a risk by hiring recently retired NBA point guard, as well as certain Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Jason Kidd to be the team’s new head coach, in light of the fact that he has no coaching experience.
I applaud King for taking this gamble since he was not going to be able to get Phil Jackson or one of the Van Gundy brothers, Jeff and Stan, to be the Nets head coach. King could have gone the safe route by a hiring a retread from the coaching ranks such as Mike Dunleavy or Scott Skiles but he realized that:
a) recycled NBA head coaches don’t sell tickets the way name players do;
b) they frequently have trouble motivating veteran players on a roster; and
c) since the Nets are near the NBA salary cap, they won’t have money to spend on a big-name free agent, so signing a household name as head coach accomplishes some needed off-season buzz for marketing purposes.
As a star Nets player a decade ago, Kidd did not get along with his then-head coach, Byron Scott, and it’s widely believed that Scott was responsible for his firing. It will be very interesting to see how Kidd handles his modern-day counterpart, prima donna point guard Deron Williams.
The hardest aspect of the job for Kidd will not be making in-game decisions but rather might be in dealing with the media. At last Thursday’s Barclays Center introductory press conference I asked him if he is concerned about having to speak a lot more than he ever had to as a player. These days a coach has to be an extrovert given all of the print, electronic and digital media that now cover professional sports. As a player, Kidd, like his fellow Bay Area native the actor Clint Eastwood, was a man of few words and let his work speak for itself.
Before he could answer, Billy King, who is as natural around a microphone as an emcee at a comedy club, quickly chimed in, “Oh, I did not tell that this will be the last time that Jason will be talking to the media!” After the laughter died down, Kidd spoke about how successful San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is renowned for his minimalist philosophy with the press.
When you have won NBA titles, as “Pop” has, you obviously get a lot more leeway in how you do things. Kidd should also keep in mind that San Antonio has a very small media contingent compared to what he’ll be facing here.
New York Racing Association marketing officials should have been at Citi Field last Friday night, as more than 32,000 people attended the Cubs-Mets game. The main attraction was not baseball but rather the Foreigner concert that started about 10 minutes after the Mets lost 6-3. My guess is that the concert promotion drew at least 10,000 extra customers.
Except for paying some Citi Field security personnel and maintenance folks overtime, the Mets did not have to outlay much money, as sponsors Duane Reade and Gillette took care of all costs related to the band.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, NYRA executives contracted the biggest names in the music industry to perform in the beautiful backyard of Belmont Park either before or after weekend racing cards. NYRA was worried at the time about the competition coming from both Meadowlands Racetrack and Off-Track Betting parlors.
Nowadays, casino gaming is the biggest threat to horse racing. If NYRA is serious about creating new patrons, they should team up with sponsors who would be willing to finance big-name live entertainment.
Incidentally, Foreigner was terrific Friday night. Guitarist Mick Jones, who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame the night before at the Marriott Marquis along with his former writing partner and ex-Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, still can play a blistering guitar. Lead singer Kelly Hansen lacks Gramm’s vocal power and phraseology but is a good singer in his own right. I just wished they had performed “I Don’t Want to Live Without You.”
Mets third baseman and matinee idol David Wright had to answer a lot of questions from reporters about the Mets marketing department’s covert attempt to reach out to an older woman-younger man dating site, CougarLife.com, to help get the All-Star Game vote out to make him the National League’s starting third baseman at the game, which of course will be played at Citi Field on July 16.
The Mets eventually did not follow through with CougarLife.com because they worried about being ridiculed. I say that business is business and votes are votes. Wright broke into a huge grin when I joked that other hookup websites as Jdate.com, eHarmony.com, Match.com, Ashleymadison.com and Anastasiadate.com, would try to pick up the slack.
The Yankees have the most powerful brand name in the history of sports, and you never know where their logo is going to show up. A Cleveland-based company, ShurTech Brands, has a cleverly named masking tape division called Duck Tape that has just introduced a line of packaging tape with the Yankees insignia on it. Likewise, Topps, famous for its packages of baseball cards that come with a stick of rectangular gum, is now making a sucking candy, Yankees Pop Rock. I am surprised Topps did not seek out the Mets for Pop Rock since they are certainly more identified with sucking.
If you are a rider on the #7 line you may have noticed that a number of trains have unusual exterior artwork. Procter & Gamble has started a “Season of the Whiff” advertising campaign (a nice wordplay on the classic Donovan song “Season of the Witch”) that features Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson promoting Head & Shoulders Shampoo and Old Spice Deodorant on select Flushing trains that will run through the All-Star Game. My guess is that if P&G executives could have had a crystal ball they would have chosen Matt Harvey to be the face of this particular venture.
Can wine coolers be making a comeback? I fondly remember those fun Bartles & Jaymes commercials from the ’80s — as well as drinking their wine coolers sitting on the National Mall one July 4 in Washington, DC back in the day. Seagram’s has created Escapes, a line of beverages that combine citrus fruit, sparkling water and a touch of malt to give that great wine cooler taste that a lot of us remember.
Even though we’re in June, the winter of 2014 is not far off for ski resorts and winter clothing companies. SNOW Magazine held a fashion event for the press this past week in New York.
The next day a number of Park City, Utah resorts held a press event to promote what they have in store for skiers. The funny thing is that Park City is a great summer getaway because it rarely gets very hot and is never humid. It’s off-season for such swanky properties as the Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and Canyons Resort, which means bargain rates. Instead of skiing, mountain biking and hiking is big. And yes, there are swimming pools. JetBlue has daily service between JFK and Salt Lake City, which is 32 miles from Park City.