Jason Kidd played in 1,391 NBA regular-season games and 158 postseason games.
But Sunday's matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Brooklyn Nets was a first for him: his first regular-season game as a head coach.
The Nets hired Kidd during the summer, just weeks after he retired as a player. He missed the Nets' first two regular-season games because he was serving a league suspension for drunken driving.
Kidd looked and sounded calm as tipoff approached.
"There are really no emotions," Kidd said. "This is basketball. For me and the guys, they've been doing it since we've been at Duke [for training camp]. So, for me, it's just to give them the plan and help them while they're out there."
Six Nets players have been selected to the All-Star Game during their careers: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Brook Lopez. They've combined for 36 All-Star selections.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, who was Kidd's teammate for two seasons with the New Jersey Nets, thinks Kidd will command instant respect within the locker room.
"The respect is definitely there," Vaughn said. "It's about the temperament. It's about how you approach guys, the respect level that you have. Part of being a point guard is being able to put your ego aside a lot of times for the betterment of the team, and he's done that along the way. I think he's a guy that will take that challenge on of guiding the different egos that he has on his team."
Vaughn wasn't saying, however, that a coach needs to have played to earn respect from players.
Miami Heat players have a total of 38 All-Star selections, and their coach, Erik Spoelstra, is considered one of the sport's best coaches and best managers of egos. Spoelstra never played in the NBA.
Second-year power forward Andrew Nicholson recorded his third career double-double, scoring 17 points and collecting 11 rebounds in the Magic’s 107-86 win Sunday.
“I just love seeing how aggressive he’s playing, and when he gets the basketball, he’s very confident,” Vaughn said. “And his teammates are confident that he’s going to make the right play. And, then, defensively, to see him get in-between the bigs and get rebounds for us on both ends of the floor? He knows that’s what I want from him.”
The big dunk
What did Vaughn think of Victor Oladipo’s fourth-quarter steal from Deron Williams and the 360-degree slam dunk that immediately followed?
“Just a very aggressive play, and I wish I could do it,” Vaughn said.
In their first three games, the Magic were most successful when they played three guards simultaneously.
The team had employed a total of 29 lineups in those games, and 12 of those lineups outscored the opponent on a per-minute basis, according to the NBA's official statistics database.
Seven of those 12 lineups were three-guard lineups.
It should be noted that the sample size is much too small to draw any grand conclusions. Still, it was difficult not to notice that three-guard lineups had been successful for the most part.
"I think overall it gives us multiple ball-handlers," Vaughn said. "That gives us a great ability to get into our offense without delay."
Through Saturday, the Magic ranked 11th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, limiting opponents to 98.9 points per 100 possessions.
Orlando finished last season 25th in defensive efficiency, allowing 106.7 points per 100 possessions.
Again, it's too early to draw definitive conclusions.
But if the Magic can continue to play well on defense, it would be a sign of improvement.
"Defense isn't pretty," Vaughn said. "It's on us [as coaches] to kind of glorify that a little bit."
• Sunday was a homecoming for Nets assistant coach Charles Klask, who worked a decade for the Magic in a variety of roles, including as scouting information manager. Klask spent the last two seasons as a Detroit Pistons assistant coach.
• The Magic held the Nets to 38.2 percent shooting.
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