Latrell Sprewell choking Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo still carries significance these years later, because it’s a unique incident. Players just don’t physically attack their own coach. Even in the era of player empowerment, that’s still a bright line not to be crossed.
Did Kevin Garnett come close while playing for Nets coach Jason Kidd, though?
Weeks after retiring as a player in 2013, Kidd became Brooklyn’s coach. It was quickly apparent Kidd was in over his head – especially on a team with savvy veterans like Garnett and Paul Pierce. Kidd repeatedly blamed his players.
The problems came to a head on Christmas. After getting blown out by the Bulls, an especially embarrassing display, the Nets gathered in the locker room.
Pierce on “All The Smoke:”
J Kidd come in there. Aw, he yelling. He yelling at us. And I know KG kind of got in J Kidd’s face. I thought he was about to whoop J Kidd. Straight up. I was like. Went up in his face. “I ain’t no whoop whoop.” Had his towel on. He had his towel on, like about to get into the shower, in front of everybody. And then just walked off to the shower. I swear, from that point on, it turned our season around. KG cares so much.
Keep in mind: This was just Pierce’s perspective. He can’t know what Garnett was thinking. Perhaps, Garnett wasn’t at all close to fighting Kidd.
But Pierce knew Garnett well from their time together in Boston. Pierce and Garnett (unlike another Celtics teammate) also remained friends. Think they never discussed this incident in the following years? I’d value Pierce’s perspective here.
That said, there was another reason the Nets turned around their season beyond Garnett’s intensity. With Brook Lopez injured, Brooklyn turned to a smallball lineup with Pierce at power forward that was ahead of its time.