From 2005-2008, Bob Thate was the shooting coach for the New Jersey Nets. It was right around this time that Jason Kidd began to season a bit, and needed to reinvent his game should he want to stick around the league for a while more. So he did, with Thate’s help. In recent years he’s added a somewhat deadly spot-up shooting game, and now he’s third all-time in career three-point field goal makes.
These days, Thate is doing the same job for the Los Angeles Clippers. Jason Kidd, meanwhile, isn’t shooting the ball too well. After shooting over 40% from three-point range to start the season, his overall average has dipped to 35.3%. Since January 1st, he’s shot 26.8% from behind the arc. Mike Woodson demoted him from the starting lineup to the bench. All those puff pieces about veteran leadership and savvy and calming influence have disappeared. He’s just an old guy who can’t move and can’t shoot.
The Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks played at the Staples Center yesterday afternoon, and Bob Thate and Jason Kidd reunited during pregame warmups. Except their meeting wasn’t about high fives and war stories and shared laughs; this was a business meeting, trainer and client, teacher and student. During pregame, Thate gave Kidd shooting pointers for 30 minutes as he worked on his shot – a nice gesture for an old friend, but a weird conflict of interest right before their respective teams were about to face off. And it appears that Thate didn’t sabotage Kidd, because he went 3-5 from three-point range, his best game from there in a very long time.
Jeff Van Gundy, naturally, was incensed. Though during his ranting and raving on the ABC broadcast, he did make a good point: why not wait until after the game? Or, you know, any other time? It’s probably best not to work for the team your employer is about to play.