SALT LAKE CITY -- Jason Kidd, head coach.
Regular followers of the NBA for the past couple of decades know Kidd as one of the greatest point guards the game has known, having racked up more than 12,000 assists -- second only to Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton on the NBA's all-time list -- over 19 seasons.
But a coach, just months removed from the end of his playing career?
Not according to former Nets teammate Richard Jefferson, now a member of the Jazz.
"I played against (Golden State coach) Mark Jackson and he was my coach," said Jefferson, who played for the Warriors last season. "It's something that, the older you get in this league, the more you start to see that happening."
Jefferson, 33, was a rookie during the 2001-02 season when Kidd, who had just come over from Phoenix, led the Nets to an Eastern Conference championship before falling to the Lakers in the 2002 NBA Finals.
The Nets repeated the feat a year later with Kidd averaging 18.7 points, 8.9 assists and 6.3 rebounds a game before eventually losing to San Antonio in the finals.
Kidd, 40, retired at the end of the 2012-13 season. Weeks later the Nets hired him as their head coach.
"In my opinion, I think he has all the characteristics of a great leader," Jefferson said. "I think that he's proven that over the last 25 years of his life. Now it's a matter of him going out there and getting it done in the coaching ranks. He's got a great team, a great staff and a great organization. I think he has all the tools there in order to be a great coach."
After missing the first two games of the season with a suspension for a DUI charge, Kidd made his coaching debut Sunday with a blowout loss to Orlando.
The Nets (1-2) will play host to the Jazz (0-3) tonight at the Barclays Center.
Jefferson, who averages 11.7 points for the Jazz, said he wasn't surprised to see Kidd make his way into the coaching ranks, after all he was considered one of the game's ultimate floor generals during his playing days.
"There's no doubt in anybody's mind that he's one of the great cerebral players of all time, so to see him kind of segue into coaching is not that much of a surprise," he said. "It's a little weird seeing him out there but it's not a surprise by any means that he's coaching in the NBA."
What's a bit odd is that Kidd made the jump from playing to coaching so quickly, with no time spent as an assistant or a head man in the college or D-League ranks.
Kidd's hiring came shortly after veteran coach Brian Shaw interviewed for the job and according to reports published at the time, Kidd convinced Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his advisors to take a chance on him.
The Nets' camp defended the decision thusly:
"Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets and with the city of New York," Prokhorov said in a statement. "He has the fire in the belly we need, and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there. Welcome home, Jason."
In a statement of his own, Nets' general manager Billy King called Kidd a "a proven winner" with "an incredible wealth of basketball knowledge and experience."
"This will be a natural transition for him to move into the role of head coach, as he embodies the tough, smart and team-first mentality that we are trying to establish in Brooklyn," King added.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin took a different path to head coaching. He paid his dues as a player mentor in the D-League, then the player development manager for the Knicks and finally as an NBA assistant for seven seasons before finally getting his chance when coach Jerry Sloan resigned in 2011.
"It's a little surprising that (Kidd) was able to do (get the Nets' job)," Corbin said. "But if anybody can handle it, I think that the career's he's had, with being a point guard in this league for so long, his knowledge of the game allows his the ability to be successful at doing it."
Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.