College - Wheaton College (IL)
One of the most respected minds in the NBA, Donnie Nelson is in his fourth season as the President of Basketball Operations. Nelson was promoted to that role on July 1, 2002 and is involved in every aspect of the Mavericks basketball operations. He also serves as an assistant coach and owns 20 years of NBA experience. On Jan. 2, 1998, he came to Dallas after three seasons as an assistant coach with Phoenix.
Nelson successfully coached the Mavericks while his father and former head coach Don Nelson missed time. While the elder Nelson was recovering from cancer surgery in 2000-01, Donnie led the team to a 13-8 record. In 2001-02, he was 2-0 as the head coach. He was the top assistant to his father at Golden State, where he served the organization a total of eight seasons ('86-'94). Nelson was also a regional scout for the Milwaukee Bucks for two seasons ('84-'86).
Since 1990, Donnie has served as an assistant coach for the Lithuanian National Team. In that span, he has helped them win three bronze medals in four Olympiads, a silver medal in the 1995 European Championships and a gold medal in the 2003 European Championships. In appreciation for his contributions, Nelson was awarded the Grand Cross of the Commander by the President of Lithuania in 2004. He also serves as Honorary Ambassador for the League of Industries.
In 1994, Nelson proudly served as a scout for USA Basketball at the World Championships in Toronto. Dream Team II went undefeated on their way to capturing a gold medal that year.
Nelson’s tireless efforts helped crack two walls that once seemed unbreakable. He was responsible for signing the first player from both the Soviet Union (Sarunas Marciulionis) and China (Wang Zhizhi) to NBA contracts. In addition, Nelson holds the honor of being the only American coach to participate in a Soviet National training camp. He also pushed the Mavericks to acquire a relatively unknown German named Dirk Nowitzki on draft day in 1998.
"Donnie has been my biggest supporter from day one," said three-time NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. "He works harder than any coach or president in the NBA. He thinks about basketball 24 hours a day."
Nelson also serves as the Chief Advisor for the Chinese National Basketball Team, which equaled their all-time best Olympic finish (8th) in Athens this summer.
Also for the past two years, Donnie has worked with the NBA’s African Top 100 campaign. This outreach program provides educational opportunities to challenged African athletes.
Nelson is the founder of the "Global Games" in Dallas, which gives area high school kids a chance to test themselves against the top Junior National Teams in the world. The games completed their fifth season this summer.
In December 2002, Donnie Nelson's heart for disadvantaged youth led to the creation of the Assist Youth Foundation. The foundation's goal is to advance opportunities for underprivileged kids in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and across the globe.
A 1986 graduate of Wheaton (Ill.) College, Nelson was inducted into the school's Hall of Honor on October 3,1997. He led Wheaton in scoring and was an NABC All-Midwest selection.
Born September 10, 1962, he and his wife, Lotta, have a daughter, Christie (8/10/92); and son, D.J. (5/24/94).