Former Warriors Don Nelson, Jamaal Wilkes & Ralph Sampson Elected To Hall Of Fame

Former Warriors Don Nelson, Jamaal Wilkes & Ralph Sampson Elected To Hall Of Fame

Trio To Be Enshrined In September Along With Class Of 2012; Oakland Native Don Barksdale Also Selected

Don Nelson, who served two stints as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, and former Warriors players Jamaal (Keith) Wilkes and Ralph Sampson have been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced earlier today in New Orleans, Louisiana, site of the NCAA Final Four. They are joined in the Class of 2012 by Reggie Miller, Don Barksdale, Mel Daniels, Chet Walker, Katrina McClain, Lidia Alexeeva, Phil Knight and the All-American Redheads. Official enshrinement ceremonies are scheduled for September 7, 2012, at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Nelson became the all-time winningest coach in NBA history during the 2009-10 NBA season, completing the 31st campaign of his NBA coaching career and the fourth and final year of his second stint with Golden State. With 1,335 career victories, Nelson stands alone atop the NBA all-time coaching wins list, having surpassed Lenny Wilkens (1,332) with victory number 1,333 on April 7, 2010, at Minnesota. Overall, Nelson compiled a 1,335-1,063 (.557) record in 2,398 regular-season games in 31 seasons as a head coach with Milwaukee (1976-87), Golden State (1988-95 & 2006-10), New York (1995-96) and Dallas (1997-2005). Only Wilkens has coached more NBA games (2,487).

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 is also one of only two coaches in league annals (joining Wilkens) to register 300-plus victories with three different teams, having accomplished the feat in Milwaukee (540), Golden State (422) and Dallas (339). Nelson’s teams registered 50-or-more wins in 13 of his 31 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 (17).


Wilkes was selected by Golden State with the 11th overall selection in the 1974 NBA Draft after a successful collegiate career at UCLA, where he was part of two National Championships and was named All-America as a senior. During his three seasons with the Warriors, he earned the 1974-75 Rookie of the Year Award and First Team All-Rookie honors while helping lead Golden State to the 1975 NBA Championship, was named to the 1976 Western Conference All-Star Team, and earned Second Team All-Defensive recognition in both 1975-76 and 1976-77. After leaving Golden State, Wilkes spent the next eight seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he earned two additional All-Star selections, made five Finals appearances and won three more NBA Championships. Overall, he enjoyed a 12-year NBA career, averaging 17.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.27 steals in 828 games with the Warriors, Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Sampson joined Golden State in December of 1987 and appeared in 90 games over two seasons (1987-88 & 1988-89) in a Warriors uniform. One of the greatest players in college basketball history at the University of Virginia, the 7’4” center was a three-time Naismith Award winner, two-time Wooden Award recipient and led the Cavaliers to the NIT Championship and one Final Four appearance. In 1983, he was the #1 overall draft pick by the Houston Rockets and went on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors. A two-time All-Star with the Rockets, Sampson was named MVP of the 1985 NBA All-Star Game.

There have now been 21 former Warriors players/coaches/scouts in franchise history to earn Hall of Fame honors, with Nelson, Wilkes and Sampson joining such luminaries as Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond, Joe Fulks, Paul Arizin, Eddie Gottlieb and, most recently in 2011, Chris Mullin.

In addition to the former Warriors, Oakland native and Berkeley High School product Don Barksdale was also named to the Class of 2012. One of the game’s true pioneers, Barksdale broke the color barrier multiple times as the first African-American NCAA All-American, the first to make the U.S. Olympic team, and the first to play in an NBA All-Star Game. Following military service in World War II, Barksdale led UCLA to the Pacific Coast Championship and became the first African-American signed by an American Basketball League (ABL) team with the Oakland Bittners, where he set the ABL scoring record in his debut season. Part of the 1948 Olympic team in London, he became the first-ever African-American to also win a gold medal in basketball. He played four seasons in the NBA, beginning with the Baltimore Bullets in 1951. In 1953, as a member of the Boston Celtics, he became the first African-American selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game. In 1983, he launched the Save High School Sports Foundation, which, by the time he passed away in 1993, raised over one million dollars to help save several Oakland school athletic programs.

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