The prevailing notion in Portland was that Jason Kidd withdrew from consideration for the Trail Blazers' coaching vacancy in response to widespread local backlash about his history of domestic abuse. Why else would Kidd have taken his name out of the running just two days after Damian Lillard pointedly went on record as wanting the Hall-of-Fame point guard as his team's next head coach?
Kidd became the Dallas Mavericks coach this week, quickly emerging as the only serious candidate in Mark Cuban's search after Rick Carlise's abrupt resignation earlier this month.
As pretty as it was for Blazers fans to believe their collective outrage to his ugly past is what dissuaded Kidd from even making himself available for Portland's job opening, time proved a more unfortunate if logical likelihood. Kidd, well aware of tension at all levels within the Mavericks, was simply waiting for the coaching opportunity he wanted more—one that happens to come with a franchise that just three years ago re-committed itself to addressing a toxic workplace culture that included allegations of sexual harassment.
Mark Cuban said it himself: There was no excuse, and he was taking the blame.
How that supposed about-face aligns with the hiring of a man who pled guilty to spousal abuse, only Cuban knows for sure.
As criticism comes Dallas' way from all corners, though, Cuban can at least take solace from the knowledge that he's hardly the first to look right through Kidd's troubling past. The New Jersey Nets did it when acquiring Kidd from the Phoenix Suns in 2001—after his history of domestic abuse had already made headlines—and so did every ensuing team that employed him as a player or coach during the Hall-of-Famer's near three-decade tenure in the NBA.
Kidd, of course, was Lillard's first choice, but not the only preferred coaching candidate he made public. Lillard had eyes for Chauncey Billups, too, another era-defining floor general whose history of alleged abuse against women the league—and now the Blazers—has conveniently avoided addressing for years.
After a three-week search for Terry Stotts' replacement, Portland is "locked in" on Billups as the team's next head coach, according to multiple reports.
Asked by The Athletic's Jason Quick earlier this week how a 1997 rape allegation against Billups factored into his candidacy, Olshey used the Blazers' then-ongoing discussions with multiple candidates as cover to refuse comment.
“I’m not commenting or discussing anything, or speculating, about our candidates until this search is completed," he said.
Olshey won't have that luxury after he announces Billups, with whom he shares a close personal relationship, as Portland's new coach. Contract negotiations are reportedly already underway.
It's pertinent to stress that Billups denies engaging in any non-consensual sex acts with his alleged victim. Unlike Kidd, he was never charged with a crime, ultimately settling a civil lawsuit brought against him by a woman court files know only as Jane Doe.
But it's not the late-1990s anymore, or even Billups' mid-2000s heyday with the Detroit Pistons. There are only 30 jobs in the basketball world that mark the pinnacle of a coach's career, and one of them is about to belong to an alleged rapist.
Just like Billups, Olshey and the Blazers owe the public a response to questions about an accusation that's been overlooked for way, way too long, his purported victim deserves her side of the story told, too.
- CONTENT WARNING: Below are details about the alleged rape and sexual assault of a woman by multiple men, including Billups, that could be triggering for many readers. Discretion is advised.
On November 9, 1997, Jane Doe was at a comedy club with Antoine Walker, her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Also there were Billups and Ron Mercer, Walker's rookie teammates with the Boston Celtics, as well as two of his longtime friends and other women. Doe hadn't previously met Billups or Mercer, but was acquainted with Walker's friends.
Doe alleges that when the group was ready to leave, one of his friends told her that Walker wanted her to go back to the Celtics star's luxury condo in Waltham, MA. While Doe claims that Billups drove her, Mercer and one of the remaining men to Walker's home, Billups later told police that he was never at Walker's condo that night.
According to Billups, Doe initiated and performed consensual oral sex on him in his car, the full extent of their sexual interactions. Mercer also claimed he wasn't at Walker's home on November 9, instead telling law enforcement he'd received oral sex from Doe at Billups' house.
Doe, however, alleged she woke up naked the next morning in Walker's bed, an assertion for which Billups and Mercer offered no explanation to police.
Once at Walker's condo in Waltham, Doe reported that she was led to a bedroom where Billups and Mercer engaged in multiple "unwanted" sex acts on her. One of Walker's friends purportedly forced Doe to perform oral sex on him, at some point asking Billups and Mercer, "Yo, who wants some?"
Doe allegedly blacked out during the attack, waking on November 10 in bed with one of Walker's friends, naked amid used condoms and condom wrappers littered across the floor. She then quickly called a friend, saying, "Something bad happened."
Walker, for his part, denied Doe's allegation that he was asked to join in on the alleged rape, and claimed he never saw an assault take place at his residence.
Doe was admitted to the Boston Medical Center the day after the reported assault, a rape kit revealing injuries to her throat, cervix and rectum. There was also bruising on Doe's back, and semen was found inside of her.