Some of the NBA's coaching market chaos is reaching its final stages, as reports began to circulate June 25 that the Dallas Mavericks were finalizing a deal with Jason Kidd to be their next head coach. The next day, Chauncey Billups was reported as the expected hire for the Portland Trail Blazers' head coaching position.
On the court, both coaches have experience and accolades to their name. Kidd served as a head coach in both Milwaukee and Brooklyn and has spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Billups is currently an assistant with the Clippers, and both he and Kidd were multi-time All-Stars during their playing careers.
However, off-court controversy quickly became a topic of conversation around both hires. In 2001, Kidd was arrested for suspicion of hitting his wife and plead guilty to spousal abuse. He also plead guilty to a driving while intoxicated charge in 2012. Billups settled a civil case based on a 1997 incident in which a woman alleged that Billups and his former teammate Ron Mercer raped her. Criminal charges were never filed, but police reports stated that a rape kit examination of the victim showed injuries consistent with sexual assault.
Former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chauncey Billups leaves the court at the end of a game against the Utah Jazz on Dec. 3, 2012. (Photo: Russ Isabella, USA TODAY Sports)
Dave Deckhard, managing editor of the Trail Blazers' SB Nation site, published an article that included reactions to Billups' hire from five women who are fans of the team.
"At this moment, I feel unheard. I feel like my feelings and opinions — and those of the women I love and respect, who have survived abuse — don’t matter at all," a woman identified as A.B. wrote. "They dangled a woman’s name in front of us to make us think she had a chance, and then turned around and hired a man with rape allegations against him."
The "woman's name" referenced is Becky Hammon, assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon was a finalist for the Trail Blazers job, and if hired, she would have been the first female head coach of an NBA team. She was previously considered for head coaching jobs with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers, but has ultimately been passed over despite seven seasons of coaching experience in the league.
Blazers star Damian Lillard told The Athletic earlier this month that he endorsed Billups or Kidd (who later withdrew from consideration for the position) to be the team's next head coach. He faced criticism from fans for endorsing the two men despite the allegations against them, but Lillard responded and denied knowing about the cases. He did not address his current stance on the hire.
Haley O'Shaughnessy, who hosts the basketball podcast Spinsters, explained the harm that endorsements like Lillard's can cause for other victims of sexual violence.
"When you ignore someone’s past, you’re sending a message to all the women in your life," she wrote on Twitter. "You dismiss what Chauncey did, and you’re in turn dismissing many people’s past traumas, even if they didn’t share those experiences to you."
The resurfaced allegations against Billups were a surprise to others besides Lillard, including The Ringer's Van Lathan. He echoed other comments online that claimed the allegation was never publicly discussed during his past employment with ESPN and the Clippers.
"I swear to God I never heard any of this about Chauncey Billups until now. I mean not EVER," Lathan said on Twitter.
Kidd's hire received additional scrutiny on social media because the Mavericks organization is still recovering from a 2018 Sports Illustrated investigation, which uncovered a "corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior."
Jasmyn Wimbish, who covers the NBA and WNBA for CBS Sports, called out the contrast between Kidd's hiring and Mavs owner Mark Cuban's promise to change the culture of the organization after the scandal.
"Mark Cuban went on national television and cried when grilled by Rachel Nichols about the toxic workplace his team created, and three years later he's hiring Jason Kidd?" she said on Twitter.
Josh Eberly, a Mavericks fan and writer for HOOP Mag, NBA Canada and FanSided, also took issue with the hire in light of the Mavs' past issues with sexual harassment and assault.
"The Mavericks signing Kidd was the worst look possible given their recent history and they didn't give a damn," he said.
Currently, neither hire has been officially announced by the teams involved.
Contact Emily Adams at [email protected] or on Twitter @eaadams6.
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