Don Nelson Rumors
NBA.com: How did you like playing for Bucks coach Don Nelson? Bob Lanier: Loved him. It was just like playing for your big brother. He was a player’s coach, for sure. He’d been through it, won championships. Knew what it was like to be a role player, knew what it took to be a prime-time player. Didn’t get upset over pressure. He was just a stand-up guy.
“When Steve was in Phoenix the first time, he hadn’t made himself the best athlete,” Chapman said. “He was still a little pudgy. I remember Cotton (Fitzsimmons) put him in an exhibition game and Steve got beat back-to-back times down the floor. Cotton looked at Danny (Ainge) and said, ‘Ah, the rook’s awful slow. I don’t know. I don’t know.’ “But you could see how well he shot the ball, and he could get wherever he wanted to on the court. He got some tough love in Dallas from Nellie (Don Nelson), and made himself a pro. He was a worker, changed his diet and became as athletic as he possibly could. The efficiency with which he played, his use of his off-hand, his footwork, it was amazing.”
Dwain Price: Don Nelson will present Steve Nash at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies tomorrow. Nellie said: “I don’t think there will be any tears by me when I put him into the Hall of Fame. I’ll be very happy for him, but I don’t see a tear coming. But you never know when they come.”
Don Nelson was there during the infancy stages of Nash’s career, when the kid who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, was just learning the nuances of the NBA game. “He had the ability to have a great handle on the ball as far as the dribble is concern, and to see the game,” Don Nelson said of Nash. “His vision was never at the rim. It was always about what was going on around him. “Once he got the good combination of looking at the rim and seeing what was around him he became a great player and a perennial All-Star.”
“My personality was to feed my teammates, and I loved getting in the seams and being creative and making the game fun for my teammates,” Nash said. “But Nellie frankly said, ‘That’s bulls—. You’re a better shooter than these guys. I want you shooting the ball.’ “Nellie [launched] my career in pushing me to be aggressive and score the ball. But I never took it to the heights that the numbers validate in today’s day and age, where I probably should have shot the ball 20 times a game. It probably would have made a lot more sense.”
Nelson and D’Antoni agree Nash could have still been one of the best passers ever to play the game while shooting almost twice as much. The coaches believe Nash was capable of the kind of shot-making — from deep range, off the dribble — that has made another back-to-back MVP such a transcendent talent. “He could have been right up there with Curry if he wanted to score more,” Nelson said of Nash. “Oh yeah, he had the same type of game, just a different mindset.”