Magic Johnson never wanted to be a coach. He made that clear to reporters during a conference call Wednesday.
But in 1994, at the request of owner Dr. Jerry Buss, Johnson coached the Lakers for the final 16 games of the season on an interim basis, going 5-11.
Given that, if there's anyone who understands just how challenging it is to make the transition from Hall of Fame-caliber point guard to head coach, it's Magic.
"We've seen Mark Jackson do a wonderful job with Golden State and if [Jason's] heart is into it and he's willing to put in the work -- because what he won't understand is that it takes more work than it did as a player.
"When I did those 16 games for the Lakers, I understood how hard it is for coaches, because I stayed up all day and all night going over game plans, watching film and I couldn't even sleep. I'm thinking about the changes that I wanna make or the different plays I wanna run against a different team. It's a lot of work, so I gained a lot more respect for coaches than I even had before."
Johnson said one of the biggest challenges Kidd would run into is having to accept that his players aren't as talented or dedicated as he was when he played in the NBA.
"I used to holler [at my point guard from the sidelines], 'He's open! He's open! He's open!' And about the third game doing it, my assistant coach, Michael Cooper, pulled me aside and said, 'Quit hollering he's open because you can see it, but he can't.' And I kept saying, 'Why? He's open.' So I think he's gonna have to understand that guys are not gonna be able to play like him or be as dedicated as he was. He can't expect everybody to be great like him, so that's probably going to be his biggest challenge."
Johnson, like many others, believes it's important for Kidd to surround himself with a veteran staff of assistant coaches.
"Game-planning is also tough because he hasn't been doing that, so just to come up with the game plan on offense and defense, I would think it would help to have some top-notch assistants that can help him with that," Johnson said. "Player-wise, he'll handle that. Respect-wise, he'll get that from Day 1, because he's been a winner, he's a Hall of Famer, he'll get that in the locker room. He knows how to deal with egos because he's been in those locker rooms, but his challenge will be the game plan, day-to-day, and making sure that he doesn't judge guys or expect guys to be like him or be dedicated."
Johnson remembers a scenario where one of his players -- a starter -- used to take 15-foot jumpers, but couldn't make them, so Johnson asked the player to come in an hour early to practice.
"And he said, 'No, I don't want to come an hour ahead of time,'" Johnson said. "So I told him, 'OK, if you don’t want to come up an hour ahead and shoot that 15-footer and get better at it, then in the game, you can't shoot it. And if you do shoot it, I'm pulling you out of the game.'
"So the next day, I guess he was gonna show me [up in a game], and so he takes a 15-footer, clanks it again, and as soon as it clanked I called a timeout and pulled him out of there. So it's things like that where I'm used to guys going into the gym before, and guys today may not be like that. You just gotta deal with those types of things."
Still, Johnson figures with either Kidd or Brian Shaw, the Nets can't go wrong.
"But I think Jason's gonna be a great head coach, and I'd hire him in a heartbeat," Johnson said.