NBA Teams
Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer 21d

Jason Kidd's advice for Giannis: 'Don't get bored'

NBA, Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE -- Jason Kidd spent almost 20 years of his professional life carving out a Hall of Fame career in the NBA, but now, as he continues the next chapter of his basketball life, he does so as the coach of a 22-year-old superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo. ESPN.com caught up with Kidd to discuss a number of different topics, including what it's like to coach one of the brightest young stars in the league. In the process, Kidd shared his thoughts on how much the game has changed since he played

Q: What's it like coaching somebody who has that much talent?

A: I think it's exciting. To be able to come to work with someone like Giannis, who works extremely hard. Just understanding his ability and trying to get him where he wants to go, that makes work a lot of fun and challenging.

Q: Is he comparable to anybody?

A: I don't know. You look at Magic, and you look at Kevin Garnett when you look at trying to put players together. Maybe Giannis is sort of like that. He might be his own person, too, so ...

Q: Are there times when you watch tape after a game and even you have to shake your head at what he's able to do?

A: Yeah. For him, from where we started and where we are to the present day, I think it just speaks volumes of his patience, his work ethic and his trust in us and helping him get to where he wants to go. And he's just at the beginning of that, so it's just remarkable watching him. The things that he can do now that he couldn't do two years ago.

Q: As somebody who has lived this, what is the biggest challenge to get from being a quality player on a team to being the face of a team?

A: One, not to be caught up in [the hype] because we're all, at the end, basketball players trying to achieve one thing, and that's to win. One [player] might get more attention, but if you're a good organization or a good team, it's always about the team or your teammates, and I think Giannis does a really good job of making sure that he always mentions his teammates because he needs them and they need him. That's the way this thing is built.

Q: From a coaching perspective, what is the process like trying to take a great player and get him to that superstar level where he's doing it every night?

A: I think it comes down to listening, trust and his ability to work. And he has all those components, so it makes it really easy to be around and coach [him].

Q: Both you and Giannis always make it clear that there are other players on the team. How is he received by his teammates?

A: Most of the guys who have been here the longest with him have seen him grow and seen him work. I think it makes it easy for them to be around him because of that. I think they also understand how talented he is and what he does to help the game become easy for them. He causes a lot of problems [for other teams], he gets a lot of attention, and it's just a matter of if you can catch and shoot and make an open shot, you're going to benefit from that. I think we have some guys who can do that.

Q: As far as the MVP talk goes, did you talk to him before the season started about all the attention coming his way?

A: Look, we're human, so it's hard to not hear [the chatter]. We can all see or read or hear everybody. It's just way too early. That's all I can tell him: It's too early. It's not about how the rabbit starts the race -- it's how you finish the race. No one will remember how you started it. Everybody will remember how you finish.

Q: I watched Tom Thibodeau go through a lot of the same stuff with Derrick Rose at the beginning of his career in Chicago. But specific to minutes, how do you balance the fact that Giannis is so instrumental to what your team is doing with the fact that he's 22 and you need to give him a break once in a while?

A: One, it's communication. We talk all the time about how he feels. The one thing I've always been a big fan of is guys who can play 40 minutes, which hasn't happened in this league for a while now. Last year, LeBron averaged, I think, 37.8 or something around there, which is a little bit below par for guys who -- we've had multiple guys in the 40s when I played. That used to be the bar. You look at Dirk and those guys in Dallas when they first got together. [Michael] Finley played 41 minutes a night. I don't think he was asking for a break, but [they were] winning ... and [Giannis] is young, but he knows how to communicate when he's tired, but we're not going to run the engine hot all the time. And there's going to be times when he plays 32 minutes.

Q: Do you think that's one of the biggest ways the league has changed since you played? Guys used to play 40 minutes all the time, and now everything seems to be ...

A: Less. Everything is less. It's going in the wrong direction. If we have all this technology to make the person or the athlete better, then my question is why are the minutes down? When guys played more minutes and more games [in years prior], we're supposed to better the athlete -- not play less. And most of those guys who played a lot of minutes played for a long time.

Q: Do you find the old guard of the league, yourself, Michael [Jordan], players from a different era, do you talk about the differences now amongst each other -- how the league not necessarily has gone soft but how it's changed?

A: It's not soft. It's just changed. It's not gone soft. It's changed for whatever reason. But my question is: For the older players, MJ, Scottie, guys who've played a lot of minutes, what was their routine? What was their training like? And more mental than physical, of being able to handle that. I think we got away from that as a league, and hopefully we can get back to that.

Q: When you look at Giannis' career and what he's already done, as a future Hall of Famer yourself, what is the one thing you want to impart to him as he makes his ascension?

A: Don't get bored.

Q: How does somebody fight that?

A: When you become the best, it's very few people who've been at the top of the mountain who haven't gotten bored, and MJ is one of them. The great ones don't get bored. The good ones do. So hopefully at the end of my coaching career, if there's anything that I can leave with him, it's when he's at the top of the mountain, he doesn't get bored.

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