Don Nelson: Making History
January 1, 2012
A 2012 inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Don Nelson is truly an NBA legend.
In 31 years as a NBA head coach, Nelson became known as one of the games most innovative figures in league history.
On April 7, 2010, Nellie broke Lenny Wilkens record for most wins by an NBA head coach. Nelson would finish his coaching career with 1,335 victories.
Nelson is one of only two coaches in league history (joining Pat Riley) to earn NBA Coach of the Year honors three times.
Nelson also enjoyed success in international basketball, leading "Dream Team II" to the gold medal of the 1994 FIBA World Championships in Toronto.
Nelson's success in coaching followed a distinguished 14-year playing career.
Nelson's first stint as a head coach occurred with the Milwaukee Bucks from 1976 to 1987.
In that time, Nelson guided the Bucks to seven-straight 50-plus-win seasons and seven-straight Midwest Division titles.
Nelson's Milwaukee teams finished in the NBA's top-5 in scoring three times and the top-5 in fewest points allowed six times.
Nelson then moved on to the Golden State Warriors in 1988, and his teams were soon among the highest scoring in the NBA.
During his first stint with the Warriors, Nelson also served as general manager and the team made the playoffs in four of his six complete seasons with the club.
After seven seasons with the Warriors, Nelson spent the 1995-96 campaign with the New York Knicks.
In 1997, Nelson began coaching in Dallas, where he helped turn a struggling franchise into a perennial contender.
Nelson returned to the Warriors in 2006 and helped snap the franchise's 13-year playoff drought in his first season back.
Nelson is one of only two coaches in league annals to register at least 250 wins with three different teams (Warriors, Mavericks and Bucks).
Popularly known as Nellie, the Muskegon, Michigan native has appeared in more games as a player, coach, GM or consultant than anyone else in NBA history.
In his three-plus decades as an NBA head coach, Nelson helped develop some of the brightest stars in the NBA.
Throughout his career, many of Nelson's disciples have found great success in the NBA.
Even if many years have passed, many of his former players still have a soft spot in their hearts for good 'ol Nellie.
Nelson's teams regisered 50-or-more wins in 13 of his 31 seasons and made 18 playoff appearances.
A colorful character throughout his career, Nelson's blunt honesty with reporters made him a legendary figure among the media.
An NBA lifer, Nelson's coaching career was preceded by 14 years as a player with three different teams.
Nelson played his rookie season with the Chicago Zephyrs before playing the next two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
But as a player, Nelson's greatest achievements came in Boston, where he was part of five NBA Championship teams.
Nelson averaged 10.3 points and 4.9 rebounds over his career and is known as one of the game's greatest "sixth men."
A standout player in his day, Nelson made even more of an impact on the coaching profession.
Among his many honors, Nelson was named one of the top-10 coaches in NBA history by a panel of former players and coaches during the league's 50th anniversary season in 1997.
Congratulations to Don Nelson for being part of NBA history!