Don Nelson Rumors
You get picked No. 1 overall, land with Golden State and spend just one season there after some issues with Don Nelson. You two were ahead of your time in terms of playing the game — what do you feel went right, or wrong, during that early stretch of your career? Chris Webber: I loved my time in Golden State. I think the league was changing again. It was a difference at that time from old-school coaching and what you see now. I was part of that transition as well. It was fun to play point forward, but at that time, the league didn’t understand Nelly. They didn’t understand me. Even though I won Rookie of the Year, we were criticized for it. It’s just funny now looking back, and I was a part of change. I have to look back at it. The backlash we got for trying to be that change. We were among the top in the pace in play and playing with Mully (Chris Mullin) … I remember just following Mully, doing everything that he did. I love Golden State, the Bay, and winning Rookie of the Year was awesome.
Chris Webber: From 18 months at Michigan, from the period of calling the timeout, which was the worst period. It was April, and within almost 50 days, you have to deal with the mistake you made, forget yourself, then prepare for the next level. I was happy with the focus that I had, I didn’t get caught up. I didn’t use anything as an excuse not to succeed that next year. So it goes straight to for me was a success. It was an honor. I didn’t want to leave Golden State, but my contract had an out after the first year. That was great for me financially. But it’s not necessarily what Nelly appreciated. (Webber signed a 15-year, $74 million deal as a rookie but had a player option on his contract for the second season, which he exercised to become a free agent.) I got to go play in Washington and that was awesome because of Juwan, Tim Legler, Rod Strickland, Tracy Murray, Chris Whitney and all those guys. D.C. was a great place to live.
No one would dare suggest that the Popovich legacy is riding on a turnaround in Tokyo, but these next 10 or so days likely amount to his last shot to rewrite some of the eyesore chapters of a mostly storybook journey. “We’ll win the gold medal,” Don Nelson, another longtime Popovich friend and fan like Brown, said over the phone the other day. “He’ll figure it out,” Nelson said.
One of the best coaches in basketball just entered another exclusive club. Gregg Popovich picked up the 1,300th regular season win of his career on Saturday, leading his San Antonio Spurs to a 120-104 win over the Chicago Bulls. Only two other coaches have achieved that milestone: Popovich’s mentor Don Nelson (1,335 regular season wins) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).
“I might get in trouble for this,” said Tim Hardaway, then Golden State’s star point guard. “Him and (Warriors assistant coach) Rod Higgins are really, really good friends. He (Jordan) came and practiced with us two or three times.” Indeed, Jordan dialed up Higgins while on a quick trip to California during the MLB strike of 1994-95 to see if he could lace up and run with the Warriors in secret. Upon receiving head coach Don Nelson’s enthusiastic approval, Higgins invited Jordan over, assistant equipment manager Eric Houssen outfitted him in Warriors threads and the games began.