Maybe Antetokounmpo said it just like that. But Kidd isn’t a reliable source for Antetokounmpo’s words, which – as Kidd relays – just so happen to flatter Kidd.
However, Kidd clearly connected with Antetokounmpo while coaching him, which was incredibly important. Kidd’s bonding with Antetokounmpo was the biggest point in the coach’s favor.
But Kidd apparently didn’t share such a close relationship with all his players.
All of this aligns with frustrations Parker has expressed with ESPN Wisconsin in the past about finger pointing and a lack of positive reinforcement from Kidd.
In short, Parker wasn’t the only Bucks player to express frustration with Kidd during his time in Milwaukee. He made some of his relationships with players incredibly difficult.
Parker dismissed those notions with a laugh and a shake of the head.
“With those reports, I take it that they are using me as a scapegoat,” Parker said at Menominee Nation Arena. “I’m not a threat right now, so they target me because I am an easy piece. With where my life is, I try to focus on myself. I have enough problems in trying to get back. That’s not me to put my energy to wish bad upon others.”
As far as his relationship with Kidd, Parker said the two talked every day, conversing “every time in the gym when I crossed paths with him.”
“He was my coach for four years and it’s always been a good relationship,” Parker said, mentioning that he was surprised to hear the news Monday. “Any coach in a head position, we’re going to have disagreements, but most importantly he helped me. That’s what I look at. I was saddened to hear the news because that’s the only guy I’ve known so far (as head coach). I reached out to him (Monday).”
Parker’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, echoed Parker’s statements, saying the reports he had seen were not true.
“Were there times where there was frustration? Yeah,” Bartelstein said. “But that goes on with every team in every locker room at all times. Jason was tremendously supportive of Jabari in getting healthy and his rehab and encouraging him. I know Jabari greatly appreciated that.
“There was no rift between Jabari and Jason that had anything to do with this decision. This was just a decision that the Bucks organization made for whatever reasons they made it. It had nothing to do with Jabari, I can tell you that.”
I doubt the Bucks fired Kidd because of Parker. That seems like a straw man Bartelstein is beating down. Teams generally don’t fire coaches to appease a player who has accomplished as little and have as tenuous of a future as Parker, whose stock has dropped due to significant injuries.
What I find much more believable: Kidd’s overall relationships with his players contributed to his firing. Parker isn’t the root of contention, just an example of it.
Kidd’s rotations often changed suddenly and without apparent reason, giving stability-craving players opportunity to grumble. Kidd held old-school principles that sometimes suppressed players. For example, Parker was once pulled from the starting lineup for sharing details of a team meeting with the media.
Again, though, that’s just an example of what sounds like a larger issue that fits into the even bigger overall assessment of Kidd.