That comment was made by NBA insider Ramona Shelburne on the 710 ESPN radio show, and seemed to be later confirmed by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on a SportsCenter appearance.
If that reasoning is true, it shows a pathetic attempt by a mismanaged organization to address an employee’s history of spousal abuse.
In 2001, Kidd was arrested for spousal abuse after he hit his then-wife Joumana in the mouth. He pled guilty and was hit with a $200 fine and anger management classes.
In 2007 Kidd filed for divorce, citing Joumana’s own alleged abusive behavior and claiming she intended to make false domestic violence claims. In a countersuit, Joumana alleged Kidd had been abusive towards her throughout the entirety of their 10-year marriage, among other domestic issues.
It would be one thing if Vogel had, on his own accord, wanted to include Kidd on his staff. It is another thing entirely for the Lakers organization to insist on his hiring Kidd’s history, combined with the Lakers' knowledge of potential blowback at his being named head coach, shows one thing. The Lakers appear to understand the gravity of hiring a man with Kidd's history – they just don’t seem to care.
Listen to what Smith had to say on SportsCenter. The Lakers knew it would be impossible to sell a franchise’s fanbase on hiring someone with Kidd’s combination of legal troubles and lack of success as a head coach (Kidd has a .491 career winning percentage). So instead they hired Vogel, who Smith reports isn’t expected to be the long-term coach.
Make no mistake: this is an attempt by the leaders in the Lakers organization, most prominently Jeanie Buss and Kurt Rambis, to slip a former domestic abuser into their head coach position without having to face the backlash of doing so. They’re hiding behind Kidd’s current assistant position, and will point to his prior head coaching experience when the good, but not great Vogel is fired after underwhelming results.
In recent years, the NBA has done a respectable job on the forefront of social justice issues in professional sports. Unfortunately, the NBA is still failing to properly deal with domestic and sexual violence charges against its players and personnel.
This past season, it was the misguided attempt at media coverage for a Derrick Rose “comeback tour.” Before that, it was the lighthearded meme-ification of Lance Stephenson, who himself has an alleged history of domestic abuse.
I don’t have an answer for how an organization should handle hiring someone with charges like this from nearly two decades ago. But I do know the Lakers paying lip service to the public by claiming that they’re troubled by Kidd’s past, then hiring him anyway, is disgusting.
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