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Bucks co-Owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens on Wednesday admitted that they "bungled the hiring process with new coach Jason Kidd," after word "leaked out of their talks with Kidd, while Larry Drew was still the coach," according to Charles Gardner of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Edens said, "We were naïve about how this business is put out to the press. We are used to operating in businesses where discretion is necessary and part of the fabric of it. The degree to which the media plays an integral role in basketball was a shock to me." Lasry and Edens said that they "plan to have clear channels of communications in the future and will be involved along with Kidd" and GM John Hammond. Lasry and Edens "met with Kidd" last Thursday, the night of the NBA Draft, but Drew was not fired until Monday. Lasry said, "I apologized to Larry for the process and how everything went about. I said, 'I'm very sorry. You've been a gentleman about the whole thing. I'm sorry about how this all happened.'" Still, Edens and Lasry said that they did "not see a communication problem in the organization as it enters the summer." Lasry said of Hammond, "John's our GM." Edens added, "We intend to run a consultative process. It's a team sport. You have the GM that runs that, but of course you expect him to consult with your coach and of course you expect him to consult with the owners" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/3). Lasry said that it was "wrong to not bring Hammond into the loop earlier in the process." Lasry: "We were asked to keep it confidential. In retrospect, that was a mistake" (AP, 7/2). The N.Y. Daily News' Pat Leonard said "more shocking" to him than the Bucks hiring Kidd was how ownership "handled it so badly." Leonard: "Just the way they completely mishandled this, everybody did something wrong here" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 7/2). Lasry discusses the timeline and process that led to Kidd's hiring.
NEW KIDD IN TOWN: The JOURNAL SENTINEL's Gardner notes Kidd on Wednesday was introduced at a news conference and agreed to a three-year, $15M contract that "puts his annual salary in line" with recent deals given to the Warriors' Steve Kerr and the Knicks' Derek Fisher, both first-year head coaches. Edens said that Kidd "has the name recognition to boost the franchise." Edens: "In the long run to be successful in Milwaukee, we need to have the ability to recruit players into an organization they really want to be with." Asked about the abrupt move to Milwaukee, Kidd said, "This is business. I think [Nets GM Billy King] said it best. It's business and that's what it comes down to" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/3). In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes the Bucks "haven't had this much creative tension since they hired George Karl, another big-name ambitious schemer who brought attention and success to the franchise by taking it to within a game" of the '01 NBA Finals. It "ended badly for Karl, and there's no reason to believe it won't end badly for Kidd one day." But the Bucks are in "need of spark and sizzle right now, even if no one can predict whether it will work out with Kidd because the jury is still out on whether the guy can coach" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/3).
BUSINESS AS USUAL? In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote the introduction was not "transparent ... forthcoming ... joyful or celebratory or convivial." There were questions "that were heard and not answered," while other questions were "not asked because the 24-second clock expired." Wolfley: "From Brooklyn to Brookfield the Bucks’ owners were banged around for unprofessional conduct and Kidd was called a lot worse. Surely there would be transparency. You thought there would have been a more energetic response from the principals than 'Meh, comes with the territory'" (JSONLINE.com, 7/2). NBA.com's Steve Aschburner wrote the press conference was "by the numbers -- strictly 'business,' a word Kidd used a few times in a 'Godfather'-like way -- and something to move on from as quickly as possible." Aschburner: "Questions were limited (one reporter counted a total of 15), follow-ups were discouraged and then it was over. No customary huddles immediately afterward for 1-on-1 interviews, TV stand-ups or idle chatter. This had the feel of a business meeting -- once the CEOs were finished, the employees were expected to disperse and return to their cubicles" (NBA.com, 7/2).
NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE? SPORTS ON EARTH's Shaun Powell writes Edens, Lasry and Kidd have "proved themselves to be total frauds." They "mangled Kidd's sloppy and choreographed exit from Brooklyn last weekend and then they mangled the chance to come clean and answer the one question that begged to be asked: Why?" In a "rushed-along press conference that lacked warmth or even a degree of happiness ... Kidd and the owners looked embarrassed yet never admitted it." Powell: "Maybe Mark Lasry, Wes Edens and Kidd deserve each other. So at least there's that." In the "face of a tremendous storm of criticism around the league, and fan polls in Milwaukee that reject the idea of Kidd turning around an awful franchise, the clumsy Bucks are throwing their future to him, anyway" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/3).
MLS '15 expansion club NYC FC is "facing its first challenge" as it tries to turn "casual World Cup fans into paying customers who will watch MLS games nine months from now," according to Daniel Barbarisi of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The club "has worked to leverage the popularity of the World Cup, and particularly the U.S. Men's National Team, to target the fans who have been swept up in World Cup fever." NYC FC "has sent staffers to bars and viewing parties around the city during every single World Cup game to hand out team gear and information, spreading the word that a new soccer team is here to connect with a ready-made target audience." The organization "timed the announcement of its first player acquisition, Spanish star David Villa, to coincide with the start of the World Cup." One N.Y.-area fan "didn't even know MLS existed a mere four days ago, and yet found herself at the NYC FC tent on Governors Island putting down a deposit" for '15 season tickets. That transformation represents what NYC FC Chief Business Officer Tim Pernetti "is hoping for as his club tries to build a fan base from the ground up." Pernetti said, "It's been great, especially in a place like New York where there are so many diverse fan bases of different countries, to piggyback on the visibility of the World Cup." But Barbarisi wrote keeping World Cup fans interested "for another 10 months is the real challenge." Pernetti: "There's a road map of announcements, events and things we want to accomplish that will give us the ability to keep a high level of engagement with the fans we've already developed, as we try to acquire new ones" (WSJ.com, 7/2).
TRYING TO CAPTURE THE AUDIENCE: ESPN's Darren Rovell said he believes people who watched the U.S. team "will come and check out" MLS following the World Cup. However, people "have to realize" that this year's World Cup "had a lot of goals, a lot of goals in the final 15 minutes." Rovell: "This was an American World Cup. ... We look for the highlights and for us Americans, a highlight is only one thing in soccer because it is in every other sport and that's a goal" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 7/2).
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