College - Iowa
The second-winningest coach in NBA history, Don Nelson is currently in the fourth year of his second stint with theWarriors, having been named head coach on August 30, 2006. During his most recent three-season stint with Golden State, Nelson has brought his uptempo, high-scoring brand of basketball back to the Bay Area as the Warriors have finished either first or second in the NBA in scoring each season, including a league-leading 111.0 points per game in 2007-08. That year, he guided theWarriors to a 48-34 record, marking the team’s best record since 1993-94 and just the ninth time in franchise history (since 1946) and the third time since 1975-76 that the team has amassed 48 victories in a single season. Additionally, Golden State’s 48-34 (.585) record in 2007-08 marks the best record for a nonplayoff team since the NBA adopted its current 16-team postseason format prior to the 1984 NBA Playoffs.
Nelson, 69, returned to Golden State prior to the 2006-07 season, leading the Warriors to a 42-40 record and their first trip to the NBA Playoffs in 13 years. Additionally, he guided Golden State to a First Round triumph over the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks, marking the first time that a #8 seed had defeated a #1 seed in a seven-game series in NBA history. In 2006-07 and 2007-08, Nelson led the Warriors to their first consecutive winning seasons since 1990-91 (44-38) and 1991-92 (55-27).
Currently in his 31st season as an NBA head coach, Nelson is the second-winningest coach in NBA history (1,309), trailing only Lenny Wilkens (1,332). Overall, he has compiled a 1,309-1,007 (.565) record in 2,316 regular-season games in 30 years. Only Wilkens has coached more NBA games (2,487). In fact, as Nelson takes part in his 46th year in the NBA as a player, coach, general manager or consultant, no one has participated in more games as a player and head coach than the 3,369 that “Nellie” has notched in his career.
Currently in his 30th season as an NBA head coach, Nelson is the second-winningest coach in NBA history (1,280), trailing only Lenny Wilkens (1,332). Overall, he has compiled a 1,280-954 (.573) record in 2,234 regular-season games over a span of 29 years. Only Wilkens has coached more NBA games (2,487). In fact, as Nelson is in his 45th year in the NBA as a player, coach, general manager or consultant, only Wilkens has more combined games as a player and head coach than the 3,287 that “Nellie” has notched thus far in his career.
In his first stint with Golden State, Nelson spent six-plus years as the team’s head coach and general manager from 1988-89 through the first 45 games of the 1994-95 campaign, amassing an overall record of 277-260 (.516) in 537 regular-season contests. TheWarriors qualified for the playoffs in four of his six complete seasons with the team (1989, 1991, 1992, 1994), highlighted by a pair of 50-win seasons in 1991-92 (55-27) and 1993-94 (50-32). In addition to earning NBA Coach of the Year honors with the Warriors in 1991-92, Nelson also served as head coach of theWestern Conference All-Star team in 1992.
During his previous tenure with the club, the Warriors ranked among the top-four scoring teams in the NBA in each of his six complete seasons, including the 1989-90 (116.3) and 1991-92 (118.7) campaigns, when Golden State led the NBA in points per game. He originally joined the Warriors as executive vice president on July 1, 1987, and was named general manager on December 30, 1987, before taking over as head coach the following season. He resigned his position with the club on February 13, 1995. His overall record in nine-plus seasons as head coach with Golden State entering 2009-10 is 396-387 (.506).
One of only two coaches in league history (joining Pat Riley) to earn NBA Coach of the Year honors on three different occasions (1983 and 1985 with Milwaukee, 1992 with Golden State), Nelson has enjoyed coaching stints in four NBA cities, having served in Milwaukee (1976-1987), Golden State (1988-1995, 2006-08), New York (1995-96) and Dallas (1997-2005). He is one of only two coaches in league annals (joining Wilkens) to register 250- plus victories with three different teams, having accomplished the feat in Milwaukee (540), Golden State (396) and Dallas (339). Nelson’s teams have registered 50-or-more wins in 13 of his 30 seasons as a head coach, placing him third on the all-time list of 50-win campaigns, trailing only Pat Riley (17) and Phil Jackson (15). He has led his teams to 18 playoff appearances and ranks 10th on the NBA’s all-time playoff winning list with 75 post-season victories.
Prior to joining the Warriors, Nelson enjoyed a successful tenure with the Dallas Mavericks. He spent six full seasons - and parts of two others - as the head coach of the Mavericks, punctuated by four consecutive 50-win campaigns from 2000-01 to 2003-04 (53, 57, 60, 52). He resigned as head coach of the Mavericks 64 games into the 2004-05 season (42- 22) on March 19, 2005 and served as a consultant with Dallas from that point on until being hired by the Warriors. Overall, he guided the Mavericks to a 339-251 mark in 590 regular season games (.575) and four post-season appearances.
Nelson’s head coaching career began in November of 1976 when he was promoted to head coach/director of player personnel for the Milwaukee Bucks. Over the next 11 seasons in Milwaukee, Nelson would amass a 540-344 record (.611) and guide a team that notched seven-straight 50-plus win seasons between 1980-87 and won seven-straight Midwest Division titles between 1979-1986. That streak of seven-straight Division titles by a head coach is the third longest streak in NBA history, surpassed only by the runs of nine consecutive Division winners by Pat Riley (1981-90) and Red Auerbach (1956-65). During his 11 seasons at the helm in Milwaukee, Nelson’s teams finished in the NBA’s top-5 in scoring three times, and finished in the league’s top-5 in fewest points allowed six times, including leading the league in fewest points allowed in both 1983-84 and 1984-85.
Among his many honors, Nelson was named one of the top-10 coaches in NBA history by a panel of former coaches and players during the league's 50th anniversary season in 1997. He also coached DreamTeam II to a gold medal at the 1994World Championships.
In 14 seasons as an NBA player, Nelson averaged 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 1,053 contests. He was drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs in 1962 (19th overall) and played one season before his contract was sold to the Los Angeles Lakers. After two seasons in L.A. he was waived and signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics in October, 1965. In 11 seasons with the Celtics, he was a member of five NBA Championship teams (1966, 1968, 1969, 1974 and 1976). His retired uniform #19, honoring his career as one of the game’s greatest “sixth men”, was raised to the Boston Garden rafters in 1978.
Born on May 15, 1940, in Muskegon, Michigan, Don Arvid Nelson was a two-time All-American at Iowa, where he graduated in 1962. Don married Joy Wolfgram on June 19, 1991, in a ceremony that was held on the Warriors’ court inside the Oakland Coliseum. Nelson has five grown children, Julie, Donn, Christie, Katie and Lee.