HAMPTON BAYS, N.Y. – Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence and was placed on interim probation, a year after he smashed his Cadillac SUV into a utility pole on Long Island.
In exchange for the guilty plea, Kidd agreed to speak to Long Island high-school students about the dangers of drunken driving. If he fulfills his community service, his plea will be reduced to a violation, driving while ability impaired, when he returns to court Sept. 30.
Kidd, who retired as an NBA player after last season, was recently hired to coach the Nets — the team he helped reach the NBA Finals twice as a guard when the franchise was based in New Jersey.
Kidd, 40, could have received three years’ probation. But a better alternative was reached, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said outside court.
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“He’s a role model to kids and other people. And he’s going to have the opportunity to talk to them about the foolish mistake that he made and the fact he took responsibility for his actions,” Spota said. “That is, for me, more important than three years’ probation.”
Based on precedent, Kidd might receive a two-game suspension from the league that could postpone his coaching debut.
Police said Kidd crashed his SUV into a telephone pole in the Hamptons community of Water Mill on July 15, 2012. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Kidd was returning from a charity function before the crash, defense attorney Ed Burke Jr. said. A Southampton Town Police report noted the 10-time NBA All-Star was unsteady on his feet, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot and glassy eyes.
The judge asked him at the plea hearing how much he had consumed before his arrest. “A couple of drinks, three or four,” Kidd replied in a soft voice.
“You could have killed yourself. You could have killed someone else,” Town Court Judge Andrea Schiavoni said. “I hope you wake up every day happy to be here.”
While playing with Phoenix in 2001, Kidd was arrested on a domestic-violence charge, acknowledging he struck his former wife.
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