Don Nelson Rumors

In other words, the revolution that Nash started in Phoenix — echoing previous attempts by Don Nelson with the Warriors in the 1990s — came full circle a week ago in Cleveland. “We were a little early,” said Nash, who retired this year after an injury-plagued last three years with the Lakers. “I mean, maybe if we would have got a few more bounces we would have won and we would have broken through that barrier, but that train of thought broke over the last 10 years, and I mean, I think the vindication for Mike is that this series ended up being a small-ball series for the meat of it.”
Riley also liked that Curry was the son of a successful and respected ex-NBA player. Riley sold then-Warriors coach Don Nelson on Curry as well. Austin and Dell Curry still tried to keep the Warriors away from Stephen Curry. But Austin told then-Knicks president Donnie Walsh that unless they could trade up, he expected Golden State to draft Curry. Austin said Walsh didn’t believe him because the Warriors already had guard Monta Ellis. “I said, ‘Larry, I like you a lot and respect you a lot, but don’t take Steph. This is not the right place for him,’ ” Austin said. “We wanted him in New York.” Said Riley: “Dell was the same way. He was almost cold.”
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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was named NBA coach of the year on Tuesday, making him just the third coach in league history to win the Red Auerbach trophy three times in his career. Popovich has received the league’s top coaching honor in two of the last three seasons, joining Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only coaches to win the award three times. In a career full of masterful coaching performances, Popovich may have delivered his best in season No. 18.
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The timing of the Mavs’ lone visit of the season to Detroit was fortuitous for two old friends. Former Mavs assistant coach Scott Roth, who forged a close bond with Nowitzki during Dirk’s early seasons as a member of Don Nelson’s first coaching staff with the Mavs, was just hired by Detroit this week to hop onto the bench beside Pistons interim coach John Loyer … and serve as Nowitzki’s welcoming committee at The Palace.
Monta Ellis smiled and shook his head when asked for his reaction to Don Nelson’s recent comments about him in Sports Illustrated. That’s a pretty pleasant response to being called “a pain in the ass when I had him” and “little selfish bastard” by the man who coached him for four seasons with the Golden State Warriors. “That’s Nellie being Nellie,” Ellis told ESPNDallas.com, chuckling. “I mean, at that time, I was, but it is what it is.”
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As for former Golden State guard Monta Ellis, now with the Mavericks, Nelson calls him “an incredible, gifted athlete” but “a pain in the ass when I had him.” One day, Nellie recalls, “I said, ‘You know, Monta, this is what I want you to do in practice today. I don’t want you to take a shot. I think you have the ability to create and make plays. If you could ever be a point guard, the way you can score, you could really be a special player.’ So he did. He found people in practice. And I said, ‘Monta, why don’t you focus on being a great point guard. They have the most fun of anybody. They’re the man, they control everything.’ ” Nellie pauses. “He said, ‘Coach, I just want to play. I just want to play.’ He wouldn’t consider that. Now, as he’s matured, he’s started making plays. To his credit, he’s a pretty good player right now. When I had him, all he wanted to do, little selfish bastard, was to shoot every time. And never pass.”
Former National Basketball Association coach Don Nelson and his former wife Sharon Nelson divorced in 1989, but there is an issue about that settlement that remains active in 2013. Nelson, 73, is no longer a coach in the NBA. His last job was with the Golden State Warriors. He retired from that team, and the NBA, on June 30, 2011. He now lives in Hawaii. Sharon Nelson, 74, lives in Brookfield. According to documents filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Don Nelson is seeking to reduce the amount of payments he makes to his ex-wife since his annual salary has fallen below the threshold set for those payments in the 1989 settlement. Since ’89, he has made 22 annual payments of $50,000 to his ex-wife. He was required to make those payments to her as long as he was actively employed and earning a “personal services income” over $350,000.
Said Harris on Sunday: “Rick will be known by his friends and those players who followed him closely by one short sentence: He cared. “Regardless of how demanding he was, Rick proved his love for friends and players past and present in a myriad of ways. I have recorded and saved voicemails he has sent me and my son Dominic has saved encouraging letters Rick sent him from years past. Obviously I could go on and on. “He had tons of friends (in the game). He was totally dedicated to his family, particularly caring for his mother after his father died. He called me the brother he never had and I suspect he used that expression a lot.”
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Rick Majerus’ solitary season on an NBA bench in 1986-87 was spent as a Milwaukee Bucks assistant to head coach Don Nelson and sidekick to then-Bucks assistant Del Harris. Nelson and Harris quickly became two of Majerus’ closest friends in the game. The longtime college basketball coach’s passing Saturday was thus felt deeply in Dallas, where the Nelson-and-Harris tag team remains firmly entrenched after they reunited with the Mavericks from 2000 through 2007 alongside current Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.
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The Warriors acquired Webber as the No.1 pick in the 1993 draft. He was named Rookie of the Year, but clashed with Nelson in his first year. Golden State ended up trading Webber to the Washington Bullets for forward Tom Gugliotta and three draft picks on Nov. 17, 1994. Nelson stepped down as coach and general manager on Feb. 13, 1995. “He was a talented young player, but he was very difficult to coach early in his career,” Nelson said. “I’m not the only coach that had trouble. Until he matured and knew what it was all about he was a difficult guy to coach.”
Nelson had a good run as the Mavericks’ coach, but his relationship with owner Mark Cuban soured. Nelson guided the Warriors to a stunning upset of the top-seeded Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. “I haven’t heard from Dallas,” Nelson said in regards to making the Hall of Fame. “But that’s (Mavs owner Mark) Cuban. He’s not going to do anything. I don’t blame him.”
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Don Nelson will officially enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. But there is one notable person that thinks the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching victories should not be inducted. Nellie himself. “I don’t really feel deserving to be in the Hall of Fame, but I am in and I’m happy about that,” Nelson told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s a great, great honor. There are a lot of guys who deserve it more than me that haven’t got in yet like Al Attles, Bill [Fitch], [Dick] Motta and those guys. They were real coaches. Man, did they ever coach. “So I feel a little undeserving. But anyway, here I am. Here I come.”
Q: What’s your reaction when you hear people talking about Nellie Ball? How would you define it? A: I suppose it means small ball, fast and exciting, point forward, players playing out of position … all those kinds of things. It’s kind of funny to me when people talk about stuff like that. I don’t necessarily think it’s accurate. You only play Nellie Ball when you don’t have a very good team, or when you have a bunch of good small players and not many good big players. When you have bad teams, you’ve got to be creative to win games you’re not supposed to win.
Q: How much were you thinking about coaching when you were still playing with the Celtics? A: I never thought about coaching. I always wondered what in the world I’m going to do when I retire. That’s why I tried refereeing [in summer league before joining the Bucks]. I didn’t really know any coaches other than the Celtics’ guys. I didn’t get friendly with other coaches and I played so long with the Celtics that they were the only coaches I knew. I wouldn’t have even known who to call.
It’s funny how that one glaring void on his résumé (a championship as a coach) never seems to bother him when he’s enjoying the sort of retirement we all should envy, how the bad times he had (like, say, his unceremonious firing by Golden State in September 2010 that brought on retirement before he’d asked for it) have been erased from his memory bank and replaced with a daily dose of beauty and bliss. Nelson, who lives with his wife, Joy, in the town of Paia that sits on the famed Road to Hana, is content and without regrets. “I’ve had one of those very special lives, really,” said the reflective and relaxed Nelson, who is 30 pounds lighter than he was at the end of his career. “I’ve been in the NBA since I was 22. It’s almost 50 years of my life. … I’m sure there’s a lot of tears when you lose and all that, a lot of down times. But I can’t remember any of them. They’re all positive now. Even the bad times were good. That’s kind of where my mind is right now. One of those storybook lives, really.”
Nelson would take those Golden State teams to three playoff appearances before having four more with the Mavericks in the 2000s, including a trip to the Western Conference finals in 2003. He had perhaps his greatest coaching moment when the eighth-seeded Warriors defeated the No. 1 Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs. “What I am most proud of is that I went to those teams when they were down, and when I left them, they were all better,” he said. “They had a chance when I left. If you were evaluating my career, you would say that’s what I did, what I enjoyed. “I thought I was always appreciated as being a good coach but I never thought I’d be in the Hall of Fame. The few years I didn’t make it, I just assumed it wasn’t in my future. But that happened now, too. So I got the cake, I got the frosting, and I will be able to eat it, too.”
Nelson’s relationship with Chris Webber in Golden State a decade and half later quickly decayed, leading to the budding superstar’s trade to the Bullets when management decided the duo couldn’t coexist. That is perhaps Nelson’s biggest personal regret, and it may have given him an unwarranted reputation as a coach who couldn’t blend with younger players. “Relating to players has never really been difficult for me,” he said. “There’s only a couple of players who haven’t enjoyed playing for me.”
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“My whole life has just been a lucky blessing,” he said. “The Boston Celtics was an example. I was waived by the Lakers. Not having a job and they call me up and give me a tryout and I’m there for 11 years and five championships. That’s the way my whole life has been.” Those close to Nelson thought he would enter corporate America after his retirement as a player, but he got a call from Bucks general manager Wayne Embry and agreed to joined Larry Costello’s coaching staff for the following season. Eighteen games into the 1976-77 campaign, Costello, who had led the Bucks to their lone NBA title with Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, abruptly resigned. The 36-year-old Nelson was handed the responsibility of reviving a sagging franchise. And with his roster options limited, Nelson decided to speed up the pace with smaller, quicker players. “I like going to bad franchises and making good ones out of them,” he said. “I like building things, and that was the attraction, and when you are going to a bad team, they don’t have very many good big players.
“I thought it was a positive response to my career,” he said of the innovator label. “When you’re not blessed to coach the best team for all of my career, really, you had to be innovative. The worse your teams, the more innovative you had to be as a coach to stay competitive and win as many games as you possibly can. That’s just part of what I was forced into. If I would have been coaching the championship caliber teams, you’d basically just make sure you’re solid at both ends of the court. You don’t have to be innovative. And I was less-innovative with the good teams that I coached than the bad ones, for sure.”