- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Legendary coach Lenny Wilkens has a pretty good idea of what Jason Kidd's about to go through.
For two seasons as head coach in both Seattle and in Portland, Wilkens served as a player-coach.
So he knows how tricky it can be to coach players who you have close relationships with.
And Wilkins' best advice for Kidd would be to draw the line between being "coach" and "friend" in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets.
"You're going to have friendships, but at the same time you're the guy making decisions now and you cannot be afraid to make those decisions," Wilkens said in a phone interview last week. "Sometimes, it may mean sitting a friend down -- [someone] who was a friend or still is. And also sometimes guys will try to take advantage of it but you can't let it happen because you've crossed a line. You're the guy that's running the show right now and you're the guy that's making the decisions and that's what you've got to do."
Kidd is close with Nets point guard Deron Williams (the two share the same agent, Jeff Schwartz). He's also played against Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for years. So Wilkens says it's key for Kidd to establish his role as decision-maker with those veterans and the other Nets.
"The thing that happens, which he'll find out very quickly, is that you have to separate. When you're a player you can hang out, you can go to dinner, things like that. But [as a coach] you can't do that as much," said Wilkens, who is active with the league via the new NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program at Mountain Home Air Force Base.
There's another rule to live by for new NBA head coaches, according to Wilkens.
"First of all, you can't hang out. But at the same time, you can have dinner with a player every know and then, try to encourage him. But most of all you've got to be consistent in what you do and what you expect," the Hall of Fame player and coach said. "Everybody will know that you're the boss but at the same time, you're going to make decisions that are going to matter and you've got to [do that] and not worry about it."
All that being said, Wilkens, who is a Brooklyn native and a former Knicks coach, is confident Kidd will succeed in his first year on the bench.
"I think Jason knows the game, he knows who should have the ball and who shouldn't," Wilkens said. "I think he has to be consistent in what he does. He can't be influenced. He's got to listen, take advice but then make his own decision. I think, yeah, it's going to be an experience for him, but I think he'll do well."
Legendary coach Lenny Wilkens has a pretty good idea of what Jason Kidd's about to go through. For two seasons as head coach in both Seattle and in Portland, Wilkens served as a player-coach.