I certainly tried. I didn't really have any conversations with [the league or USA Basketball] in advance of them choosing me. He had a 34–25 record. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1985.[38]. "So many of them became stars. They defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 4–1 and the New York Knicks 4–2 to advance to the NBA finals, where again they faced the Lakers. For a coach who gave players such free rein to operate, Nelson had a surprising amount of conflict with them through the years, presumably over his leadership style. May 27, 1987, Nelson resigned as head coach of the Bucks. After his career at Iowa, Nelson was selected as the 17th draft pick in the 1962 NBA draft by the Chicago Zephyrs of the NBA. University of Iowa Coach Sharm Scheuerman, who had graduated from Rock Island in 1952, recruited Nelson, who ultimately chose the Hawkeyes over Wheaton College and Nelson's hometown Augustana College. In Golden State, he instilled a "run-and-gun" style of offense. [70][69], During the 1986 season, Nelson established The Don Nelson Fund with the help of the Milwaukee Bucks to aid struggling farmers in Wisconsin. To stand up there and see your flag raised is a special thing. “A role model certainly, but I could never duplicate that man’s life because he was so special. It was a splendid speech, a rundown of a career filled with ups and downs, and a triumphant ending. [72][73], As of April 2018, Nelson lives in Maui, where he has a farm to grow flowers, coffee, and cannabis. [41] The team was marketed as "Dream Team II". Nelson became a sixth man off the bench for Boston, playing alongside Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, John Havlicek and KC Jones, as well as Larry Siegfried, Willie Naulls and Mel Counts.[24]. He quickly remade the roster in his own image—or, rather, in the image of a team that reflected his philosophy. He saw his first playoff action, as the Lakers were defeated by the St. Louis Hawks (today's Atlanta Hawks), with Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan and Lenny Wilkens 3–2. As a rookie, Nelson averaged 17 minutes, playing alongside Walt Bellamy (27.9 points), Terry Dischinger (25.5 points), Si Green and Charlie Hardnett. [62] He hosts local poker games with celebrities such as Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, and Owen Wilson. After playing college ball at the University of Iowa, Nelson was drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs in 1962 but he is best remembered for his play with the mighty Boston Celtics teams of the 1960s and ’70s. In 1987, Nelson was inducted into the Quad City Sports Hall of Fame. "He always made sure he checked in on my dad," said Bob's son Jack Riley. Don had both. There is no question that, if a legacy is judged by its influence as well as by win/loss record, then that of Nelson looms as large as that of any other coach the game has known. [62], He had fifteen grandchildren as of 2012. Soon after retiring in 1976, Nelson became the head coach and, later, the general manager (GM) of the Milwaukee Bucks. The trio of Nash, Finley and Nowitzki became the foundation for the Mavericks dramatic turnaround, as Nelson coached the Mavericks to four consecutive 50-win seasons. Nelson continued to retool the team, drafting All-Star Latrell Sprewell in 1992. The Lakers then faced the Boston Celtics in the 1965 NBA Finals. Nelson retained his job as Dallas' GM until after the season, when he named his son, assistant GM Donnie Nelson, as his replacement as GM. The one thing Nelson never did in his coaching career was reach the NBA finals. In 11 seasons, Nelson had a 540–344 (.611) record with Milwaukee. In the gold medal game, Team USA defeated Russia 137–91. (The name was a play on that of Run-D.M.C., the iconic rap group of the ’80s.) Perhaps his most publicized deal came before the 1984–85 season when he dealt Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Harvey Catchings, and cash to the San Diego Clippers for Terry Cummings, Craig Hodges, and Ricky Pierce.

422–443 (.488). Fortunate enough for his jumper to bounce high off the rim and through the net at the Forum to help give the Celtics a 108-106 Game 7 victory over the Lakers for another title in 1969. I got in the fast lane, and I’ve stayed there a long time. He would play in 80 games in 1963–1964, but just 39 in 1964–1965 under coach Fred Schaus.

[21][22][23], After two seasons with the Lakers, where he averaged 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13 minutes playing alongside Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Nelson left Los Angeles. Despite Webber averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, he found himself at odds with Nelson's preference to play him at center rather than power forward.

It was in Milwaukee where Nelson became known for his unorthodox, innovative basketball philosophy. Often reckless and at other times revolutionary, his squads tended to be high-scoring, loose, and less-than-enthusiastic about defense. The 2009-10 Warriors found out pretty quickly in the season that they weren't a playoff team, but at least that had the goal to win enough games to make Don Nelson the winningest coach … There was a forgettable brief tenure as coach of the New York Knicks before Nelson went to the Dallas Mavericks in 1997. [64], Golden State Warriors, second stint (2006–2010), 03/02/2003, BRAD TOWNSEND, The Dallas Morning News, McCallum, Jack, "Golden Days" (2017), p. 53, 1994 FIBA World Championship – Gold medal, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, Nelson sets NBA career victories mark in Warriors' defeat of Wolves', "The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Don Nelson", https://www.mercurynews.com/2010/02/10/trying-season-makes-golden-state-warriors-coach-don-nelson-feels-even-older-at-69/, "Rock Island grad Nelson surprises old friends with NBA record run", https://qctimes.com/sports/basketball/college/big-10/iowa/rocky-s-nelson-to-get-iowa-degree-after-years/article_b80896ba-9732-11e1-995c-0019bb2963f4.html, "Don Nelson's basketball career highlights", "YEAR BY YEAR SEASON RECORDS – Boys' Basketball – Rock Island - Milan Athletics", "Register Sports Hall of Fame Database - Don Nelson - DesMoinesRegister.com", "NBA legend Don Nelson's 50-year quest for Iowa diploma ends Saturday", "1962-63 Chicago Zephyrs Roster and Stats", "1964 NBA Western Division Semifinals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. St. Louis Hawks", "1963-64 Los Angeles Lakers Roster and Stats", "1965 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics", "1964-65 Los Angeles Lakers Roster and Stats", "1965 NBA Western Division Finals - Baltimore Bullets vs. Los Angeles Lakers", "1965-66 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats", "1968 NBA Finals - Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics", "1967-68 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats", "Don Nelson: the Celtics' unlikely multiple-time champion", "1968-69 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats", "1973-74 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats", "1974 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals - Buffalo Braves vs. Boston Celtics", "1974 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics", "1974 NBA Finals - Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks", "Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Box Score, May 12, 1974", "1975-76 Boston Celtics Roster and Stats", "LeBron a point forward?

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