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The NBA Finals are set! Starting June 6, the Boston Celtics will take on the Dallas Mavericks to see who will be crowned NBA champions of the 2023-24 season. We’ve got several days until the action tips off on the court, but there’s plenty of intrigue to keep us entertained in the meantime.

The Celtics are looking for their 18th championship in franchise history, which would set the NBA record. They also have the league’s only $300 million player in Jaylen Brown. On the other side, the Mavs are playing in just their third NBA Finals in team history (and first against a team other than the Miami Heat). Led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, the No. 5-seeded Mavs are just the second Western Conference team to reach the Finals without having homecourt advantage in a single series, joining the 1995 Houston Rockets.

There’s a great revenge angle, too. Kyrie Irving had a very unceremonious departure from Boston when he played with the Celtics, and he’d love to pull one over on his former team. This Finals also sports two key contributors who were traded from languishing teams to join title contenders. The Celtics acquired Derrick White from the San Antonio Spurs last year, who finished with bottom-five records in each of the past two seasons. And the Mavericks got P.J. Washington in a midseason trade from the perpetually underwhelming Charlotte Hornets.

All of that stuff is exciting, but for the purposes of this story, we’re looking at the two head coaches on the sidelines: Jason Kidd and Joe Mazzulla.

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd (Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

How did Jason Kidd get here?

Kidd entered the NBA Draft after two seasons at California University and the Mavericks selected him with the No. 2 pick of the NBA Draft. He spent 19 years in the NBA, playing with the Dallas Mavericks (twice), Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, and New York Knicks.

The season after he retired, Kidd got a job coaching the Brooklyn Nets. He led the team to a 44-38 record and a first-round playoff upset. That summer, the Milwaukee Bucks traded two draft picks to get Kidd on their sidelines. He helped turn the team around from a 15-win squad to a postseason berth in his first year. However, the Bucks could never find sustained success and hovered around .500 for most of Kidd’s tenure. He was fired midway through the 2017-18 season.

After taking a year and a half off, Kidd joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant starting with the 2019-20 season. Kidd received his second NBA championship ring when the Lakers won the 2020 title. His experience with the Lakers earned him another head coaching gig as the Mavs hired him in June 2021. He’s had his best coaching success with Dallas, winning 52 games and reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2021-22 and winning 50 games and making it to the Finals this season.

How did Joe Mazzulla get here?

Mazzulla has been in the coaching ranks even longer. His first couple of stops were as an assistant at Division II colleges, including Glenville State (2011-13) and Fairmont State (2013-2016). Mazzulla then took a job as an assistant for the NBA G League’s Maine Red Claws, spending a season there before returning as head coach of Fairmont State. He went 43-17 in two seasons and reached the NCAA Division II tournament in his second year.

His success at the college level caught the Celtics’ eye, and the team brought him on as an assistant starting in June 2019. He spent three years as an assistant and interviewed for the Utah Jazz in 2022. It turns out his next head coaching gig would fall into his lap.

A few days before training camp began for the 2022-23 season, the Celtics suspended then-head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season. The team named Mazzulla as the new head coach. Even with minimal time to prepare, Mazzulla and the Celtics got off to a blazing 18-4 start. The momentum carried into the playoffs, with the Celtics making it to the Eastern Conference Finals and nearly pulling off an unprecedented 3-0 series comeback before falling to the Heat in seven games. In two seasons, Mazzulla’s Celtics are 121-43.

How much money did Jason Kidd make in his playing career?

Kidd had an extensive NBA career. His 19 seasons in the league is one of the longest tenures of any player, and he ultimately appeared in 1,391 regular-season and 158 playoff games, serving as a key contributor at age 37 when the Mavs won the franchise’s only title.

During Kidd’s rookie season, he made a little over $2.77 million. He made about $3.09 million in his final season. He’d earn more than those totals in each of the 17 seasons in between. His most lucrative years came with the then-New Jersey Nets; he made $80,184,500 during his six seasons with the team. His second stint with the Mavericks included his highest-earning season, when he made $21,372,000 during the 2008-09 campaign. From 2007 to 2012 (Kidd’s return to Dallas), he made $67,831,500.

In total, Kidd made $187,675,468 as a player, per Basketball Reference, which puts him at 56th on the career earnings list. It’s a testament to Kidd’s longevity that he’s still one of the NBA’s highest earners despite never having one of the league’s top salaries. It’s also a sign of how much the salary cap has grown. Kidd’s $21.372 million salary—the highest of his career—would rank him 71st among this season’s highest earners, between Mikal Bridges and Myles Turner.

How much money did Joe Mazzulla make in his playing career?

This one is pretty easy to answer. Mazzulla played in college before name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals were a thing, so he never got to score any NIL money. Despite solid team performances, Mazzulla never emerged as a star during his playing days at West Virginia. He turned down a job at Nova Southeastern after going undrafted in hopes of finding a place to play professionally. He didn’t find any and took his job at Glenville State, starting his coaching career the same year he graduated college.

So, the simple answer: Mazzulla made $0 as a player.

How much is Jason Kidd earning as a coach?

Kidd is tied for the sixth-highest-paid coach in the NBA, making $8 million. During the team’s second-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he agreed to a contract extension. While the terms of that deal aren’t yet public, Kidd will likely get a nice bump in pay.

He’s already making more than he did during his last coaching gig. The Bucks initially were paying Kidd $5 million per year before offering him a contract extension worth $18 million over three seasons.

How much is Joe Mazzulla earning as a coach?

Since Mazzulla was promoted rather quickly, he and the Celtics haven’t had a chance to work out a longer-term extension. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported last summer that Mazzulla had $14 million and three years left on his deal. That means Mazzulla is making about $4.7 million this season.

Who has more at stake?

This is always a silly question, but it’s one NBA fans love to debate.

If we had to choose, we’d lean slightly more toward Mazzulla and the Celtics. This is a team that’s been here before and has hefty long-term deals with its star players, even more so than the Mavs.

We’re just hoping for competitive games. With lots of star power and quality depth on both sides, we should be in for a classic series!

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