Don Nelson

Donald Arvid Nelson (born May 15, 1940), sometimes known as Nellie, is an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and head coach. He coached the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Golden State Warriors.

An innovator, Nelson is credited with, among other things, pioneering the concept of the point forward, a tactic which is frequently employed by teams at every level today. His unique brand of basketball is often referred to as Nellie Ball. He was named one of the Top 10 coaches in NBA history. On April 7, 2010, he passed Lenny Wilkens for first place on the all-time NBA wins list with 1,333 wins.[1] His all-time record is 1,335–1,063 (.557).

Don Nelson
Don Nelson
Nelson in 2015
Personal information
BornMay 15, 1940 (age 78)
Muskegon, Michigan
Listed height6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolRock Island
(Rock Island, Illinois)
CollegeIowa (1959–1962)
NBA draft1962 / Round: 3 / Pick: 17th overall
Selected by the Chicago Zephyrs
Playing career1962–1976
PositionSmall forward
Number44, 20, 19
Coaching career1976–2010
Career history
As player:
1962–1963Chicago Zephyrs
19631965Los Angeles Lakers
19651976Boston Celtics
As coach:
19761987Milwaukee Bucks
19881995Golden State Warriors
1995–1996New York Knicks
19972005Dallas Mavericks
20062010Golden State Warriors
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

Career statistics
Points10,898 (10.3 ppg)
Rebounds5,192 (4.9 rpg)
Assists1,526 (1.4 apg)
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as coach

Playing career

After a very successful high school career at Rock Island High School, Nelson played for the University of Iowa as a two-time All-American averaging 21.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. In 1962, Nelson was selected as the 17th draft pick by the Chicago Zephyrs of the NBA. He played for the Zephyrs for one season, and was then acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1963. After two years with the Lakers, he was signed by the Boston Celtics.

In his first season with Boston, Nelson averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds, helping the Celtics to the 1966 NBA title as one of their role players. Four more championships with Boston followed in 1968, 1969, 1974, and 1976. In Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals, against his former team, the Lakers, Nelson converted one of the most famous shots in playoff history — a foul-line jumper which dropped through the basket after hitting the back rim and bouncing several feet straight up. The shot, taken with just over a minute to go in the game and the Celtics clinging to a 103–102 lead, helped secure Boston's 11th NBA title in 13 seasons.

A model of consistency, Nelson would average more than 10 points per game every season between 1968–69 and 1974–75 (before the introduction of the three-point shot). He led the NBA in field-goal percentage in 1974–75. Nelson was coined as one of the best "sixth men" ever to play in the NBA. He was also known for his distinctive one-handed style for shooting free throws. He would place the ball in his shooting hand, lean in almost off-balance and toe the free-throw line with his right foot and his left leg trailing. He would then push the ball toward the basket completely with his right hand while springing with his right knee and lifting the trailing foot in a sort of "hop". This technique helped him to a career 76.5% free-throw shooting percentage.

Nelson retired as a player following the 1975–76 season. His number 19 jersey was retired to the Boston Garden rafters in 1978.

Coaching career

Milwaukee Bucks

Nelson was named the general manager and head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976, and began to show what would later become his signature style of wheeling and dealing players. He made his first trade of Swen Nater to the Buffalo Braves and turned the draft pick he received into Marques Johnson, who had a solid career with the Bucks. In 1980, he sent off an underachieving Kent Benson to the Detroit Pistons for Bob Lanier. Perhaps his most publicized deal came before the 1984–85 season when he dealt Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Harvey Catchings, and cash to the San Diego Clippers for Terry Cummings, Craig Hodges, and Ricky Pierce. And, in 1986, he would deal Alton Lister to the Seattle SuperSonics for Jack Sikma.

Taking over a Bucks team in the aftermath of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's departure to Los Angeles, Nelson was able to improve their win total by 14 games in his first full season as head coach, and established the team as a legitimate championship contender by 1980. It was in Milwaukee where Nelson became known for his unorthodox, innovative basketball philosophy. He pioneered the concept of the point forward – a tactic wherein small forwards are used to direct the offense. In Nelson's tenure with the Bucks, he used 6–5 small forward Paul Pressey for the role.[2] This enabled Nelson to field shooting guards Sidney Moncrief and Craig Hodges or Ricky Pierce at the same time without worrying about who would run the offense. In his offensive half-court sets, he would also put a center who wasn't a threat on offense, like Lister or Randy Breuer, at mid-court instead of near the basket to keep a shot-blocking center like the Utah Jazz's Mark Eaton away from the basket to make him less of a threat on defense.

This system, known as "Nellieball", created a lot of mismatches and enabled Nelson to lead the Bucks to seven straight Central Division championships with over 50 wins in each of those seasons. He earned NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1983 and 1985. However, for seven straight years, despite finishing no worse than second best in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks would end up being eliminated in the playoffs by either the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics or the Julius Erving-led Philadelphia 76ers. After the 1986-87 season, which included some controversy and distraction before Game 4 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics where Nelson told the local sports media that he didn't expect to be back once the season concluded due to a rift with Bucks owner Herb Kohl,[3] Nelson left the Bucks.

Golden State Warriors in the 1980s and 1990s

Nelson did part-time work as a color analyst for NBA games on TBS during the 1987-88 season. During the season he was contacted by the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, and New York Knicks with offers to coach their teams. Nelson decided to go with Golden State, at first buying a minority stake in the team[4] before being named head coach and vice president after one season away from the NBA. In Golden State, he instilled a run-and-gun style of offense. Again using an unconventional lineup which featured three guards (Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Sarunas Marciulionis) and two forwards (Chris Mullin and the 6'8" Rod Higgins at center), he coached the Warriors to a 23-game turnaround of their previous season and back into the playoffs with his lineup popularly known as Run TMC. He was named NBA Coach of the Year a third time in the 1991-92 season.

Nelson continued to retool the team, drafting Latrell Sprewell in 1992, and trading for the rights to Chris Webber in the following draft. Despite Webber averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, he found himself at odds with Nelson's preference to play him at Center rather than Power Forward. Frequently clashing with one another, Webber threatened to use the out-clause in his contract if he wasn't traded. Nelson reportedly offered to resign rather than let the team trade away their young star, but nonetheless Webber was dealt to the Washington Bullets. Nelson then resigned from the team midway through the 1994–95 season. Nelson had made the playoffs with Golden State in four of his six seasons there; the Warriors did not qualify for the playoffs for the next 12 seasons, until he returned to the team in 2006.

Nelson coached the Team USA national basketball team at the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Toronto, and led them to the Gold Medal.[5] The team was marketed as "Dream Team II".[6][7]

New York and Dallas

Nelson would be contacted by the New York Knicks after their original choice, Chuck Daly, declined their offer to coach the team.[8] In 1995, Nelson would begin his stint with the Knicks,[9] which lasted from July 1995 until March 1996. He had coached the Knicks to a respectable 34–25 record, but he favored a more up-tempo style of offense, which sharply contrasted the Knicks preferred hard-nosed defensive style of play.[10] Nelson also suggested management try to trade Patrick Ewing in order to be in a position to make an offer to Shaquille O'Neal, who was rumored to be interested in a move to New York.[10] He was replaced as head coach by his assistant, Jeff Van Gundy.

Nelson was named head coach and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 1997. Nelson was coming to a team that had been dormant through the 90's and a permanent fixture in the NBA lottery. In 1998, his first full offseason in charge, Nelson worked out draft day deals with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns: essentially trading the draft rights of Robert Traylor and Pat Garrity for Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, whom he wanted to pair with the Mavericks rising star Michael Finley.

The trio of Nash, Finley and Nowitzki became the foundation for the Mavericks dramatic turnaround, as Nelson coached the Mavericks to four consecutive 50-win seasons. The height of their success was a 60-win season in 2002-03, when they reached Western Conference Finals against the Spurs. An injury to Nowitzki in game 3 that kept him out for the rest of the series doomed the Mavericks as they lost in six games.

Lacking an interior presence to combat low-post players such as Shaquille O'Neal, Nelson introduced the "Hack-a-Shaq" defense to the NBA while in Dallas. In the 2004 offseason, Steve Nash was offered a max contract from the Phoenix Suns; despite Nelson's insistence on matching the offer, Mark Cuban declined to and Nash accepted Phoenix's offer.[11] Nash won consecutive MVPs with the Suns.

On March 19, 2005, Nelson stepped down as Dallas' Head Coach, naming Avery Johnson as his successor. Nelson retained his job as Dallas' GM until after the season, when he named his son, Assistant GM Donnie Nelson, as his replacement. The Mavericks reached the NBA Finals the following season, though they would lose to Miami in six games. Nelson has spoke fondly of his time in Dallas, but admitted he lost in interest in remaining with the team when they did not re-sign Nash.

Golden State Warriors: second stint

Don Nelson at Suns at Warriors 3-15-09 1
Nelson as Golden State Warriors' head coach on March 15, 2009 to play the Phoenix Suns

On August 29, 2006, the Warriors hired Nelson to return to the team for a second stint as coach. Chris Mullin, a longtime favorite of Nelson's from his first stint as Warriors head coach, was the team's general manager. Nelson's style of coaching favored the play of Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Matt Barnes, Jason Richardson, and Andris Biedriņš. Midway through the season, Mullin (at behest of Nelson) orchestrated a trade for Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson of the Pacers.

The new lineup thrived under Nelson; Davis, Biedriņš and Jackson saw an increase in scoring and efficiency, Barnes went from a virtual unknown to a solid rotation contributor,[12] and Ellis was named the NBA's Most Improved Player after averaging 16.5 points per game, a substantial increase from his average of 6.8 points per game the prior season.[13] The Warriors closed out the season strong and just managed to qualify for the 2007 playoffs.

Nelson faced his old team, the Mavericks, in the first round of the playoffs. The Mavs had the NBA's best record, and were a trendy pick to win the NBA championship that year. However, in one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history, Nelson coached the 8th-seeded Warriors to victory over the top-seeded Mavericks in six games. It was numerically the largest upset in the history of the NBA playoffs, with the 67–15 Mavericks' regular-season win-loss record 25 games better than the 42–40 Warriors'. The Warriors went on to lose to the Utah Jazz in the second round of the playoffs.

On January 29, 2008, Chris Webber signed with the Warriors, reuniting with Nelson and returning to the team that had drafted him 15 years earlier.[14] His return lasted only nine games as he was forced to retire due to injuries,[15] but his return signaled closure to arguably the biggest blemish on Nelson's otherwise impressive resume as a player's coach.[16] The Warriors finished 48–34 that season-their most wins since 1993–94 (during his first stint as coach). However, in a Western Conference where all eight playoff teams won at least 50 games, they missed the playoffs by two games.

The next two seasons saw the Warriors plunge back into mediocrity, losing most of the players from their 2007 playoff run to either trades or free agency. One bright spot was created in the 2009 NBA draft, when Nelson agreed with Larry Riley to draft Stephen Curry with their seventh overall pick,[17][18] despite skepticism from critics. Curry went on to win back-to-back MVP awards and helped lead Golden State to championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018, along with Kevin Durant.

On September 23, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Nelson announced he would resign as head coach.[19] The San Francisco Chronicle reported that new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber wanted "a young, up-and-coming coach" to help revive the Warriors' fortunes. Longtime assistant Keith Smart succeeded Nelson as coach.[20] Nelson in February 2011 said on Bay Area radio station KNBR that he was fired: "I talked to (Lacob) on the phone before I got fired, and I was really impressed. I was a little surprised with the way things happened, but I think it is for the best for everybody."[21]

On September 7, 2012, Nelson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[22]


On December 29, 2001, Don Nelson became the third coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games, behind Lenny Wilkens and Pat Riley. Nelson won his 1,300th career game on February 21, 2009, joining Wilkens as the only coach to pass this milestone. Don Nelson defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 7, 2010, achieving his 1,333rd career win. He passed Lenny Wilkens for first all-time on the list of the NBA's winningest coaches.

NBA career statistics

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Nelson won an NBA championship
* Led the league

Regular season

Don nelson celtics
Nelson with Boston in the 1970s
1962–63 Chicago 62 17.3 .440 .729 4.5 1.2 6.8
1963–64 L.A. Lakers 80 17.6 .418 .741 4.0 1.0 5.2
1964–65 L.A. Lakers 39 6.1 .424 .769 1.9 0.6 2.4
1965–66 Boston 75 23.5 .439 .684 5.4 1.1 10.2
1966–67 Boston 79 15.2 .446 .742 3.7 0.8 7.5
1967–68 Boston 82 18.3 .494 .728 5.3 1.3 10.0
1968–69 Boston 82 21.6 .485 .776 5.6 1.1 11.6
1969–70 Boston 82 27.1 .501 .775 7.3 1.8 15.4
1970–71 Boston 82 27.5 .468 .744 6.9 1.9 13.9
1971–72 Boston 82 25.4 .480 .788 5.5 2.3 13.8
1972–73 Boston 72 19.8 .476 .846 4.4 1.4 10.8
1973–74 Boston 82 21.3 .508 .788 4.2 2.0 0.2 0.2 11.5
1974–75 Boston 79 26.0 .539* .827 5.9 2.3 0.4 0.2 14.0
1975–76 Boston 75 12.6 .462 .789 2.4 1.0 0.2 0.1 6.4
Career 1053 20.6 .480 .765 4.9 1.4 0.3 0.1 10.3


1964 L.A. Lakers 5 11.2 .538 1.000 2.6 0.4 3.4
1965 L.A. Lakers 11 19.3 .453 .760 5.4 1.7 6.1
1966 Boston 17 18.6 .424 .808 5.0 0.8 8.4
1967 Boston 9 15.8 .458 .588 4.7 1.0 7.1
1968 Boston 19 24.6 .520 .743 7.5 1.7 12.5
1969 Boston 18 19.3 .518 .833 4.6 1.2 12.4
1972 Boston 11 28.0 .525 .854 5.5 1.9 13.2
1973 Boston 13 23.3 .465 .875 2.9 1.2 11.0
1974 Boston 18 25.9 .500 .774 5.4 1.9 0.4 0.2 11.4
1975 Boston 11 24.9 .564 .902 4.1 2.4 0.2 0.2 15.4
1976 Boston 18 17.5 .481 .870 2.9 0.9 0.2 0.1 9.1
Career 150 21.4 .498 .817 4.8 1.4 0.3 0.1 10.5

Head coaching record

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Milwaukee 1976–77 64 27 37 .422 6th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Milwaukee 1977–78 82 44 38 .537 2nd in Midwest 9 5 4 .556 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Milwaukee 1978–79 82 38 44 .463 4th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Milwaukee 1979–80 82 49 33 .598 1st in Midwest 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Milwaukee 1980–81 82 60 22 .732 1st in Central 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Milwaukee 1981–82 82 55 27 .671 1st in Central 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Milwaukee 1982–83 82 51 31 .622 1st in Central 9 5 4 .556 Lost in Conf. Finals
Milwaukee 1983–84 82 50 32 .610 1st in Central 16 8 8 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
Milwaukee 1984–85 82 59 23 .720 1st in Central 8 3 5 .375 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Milwaukee 1985–86 82 57 25 .695 1st in Central 14 7 7 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
Milwaukee 1986–87 82 50 32 .610 3rd in Central 12 6 6 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Golden State 1988–89 82 43 39 .524 4th in Pacific 8 4 4 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Golden State 1989–90 82 37 45 .451 5th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Golden State 1990–91 82 44 38 .537 4th in Pacific 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Golden State 1991–92 82 55 27 .671 2nd in Pacific 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
Golden State 1992–93 82 34 48 .415 6th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Golden State 1993–94 82 50 32 .610 3rd in Pacific 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
Golden State 1994–95 45 14 31 .311 (fired)
New York 1995–96 59 34 25 .576 (resigned)
Dallas 1997–98 66 16 50 .242 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Dallas 1998–99 50 19 31 .380 5th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Dallas 1999–00 82 40 42 .488 4th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Dallas 2000–01 82 53 29 .646 2nd in Midwest 10 4 6 .400 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Dallas 2001–02 82 57 25 .695 2nd in Midwest 8 4 4 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Dallas 2002–03 82 60 22 .732 1st in Midwest 20 10 10 .500 Lost in Conf. Finals
Dallas 2003–04 82 52 30 .634 3rd in Midwest 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First Round
Dallas 2004–05 64 42 22 .656 (resigned)
Golden State 2006–07 82 42 40 .512 3rd in Pacific 11 5 6 .455 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Golden State 2007–08 82 48 34 .585 3rd in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Golden State 2008–09 82 29 53 .354 3rd in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Golden State 2009–10 82 26 56 .317 4th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Career 2,398 1,335 1,063 .557 166 75 91 .452

Personal life

During the 1986 season, Nelson established The Don Nelson Fund with the help of the Milwaukee Bucks to aid struggling farmers in Wisconsin. The idea originated from Wisconsin dairy farmer Clarence Willcome, to whom Nelson donated his $11,000 1986 NBA Playoffs bonus compensation. He also announced a weight loss drive to raise more money for Willcome and the Wisconsin Farm Fund.[23]

Nelson married Joy Wolfgram at the Oakland Coliseum in June 1991.[24] Nelson and his wife have a total of six children from prior marriages.[24][25] He has another daughter born out of wedlock, whom he did not know about for 29 years.[25] He has thirteen grandchildren, and his son Donnie Nelson is the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks.

Nelson graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in physical education in 2012. He had left the school in 1962 with most of his coursework completed, and later took Spanish classes to make up for some of his missing credit hours. He still lacked student-teaching hours until 2012, when the school decided that his NBA coaching experience would fulfill that requirement.[26][27]

As of April 2018, Nelson lives in Maui, where he has a farm to grow flowers, coffee, and cannabis.[25] He hosts local poker games with celebrities such as Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, and Owen Wilson.[25]


  1. ^ "Nelson sets NBA career victories mark in Warriors' defeat of Wolves'". Associated Press. April 7, 2010.
  2. ^ Aschburner, Steve (December 21, 2010). "LeBron a point forward? Well, he wouldn't be the first". Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "1994 World Championship for Men". archive. 1994-08-14. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  6. ^ Araton, Harvey (August 15, 1994). "BASKETBALL; Dream Team Ends Its Sequel Predictably". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  7. ^ Taylor, Phil (August 22, 1994). "Yes, It Was A Joke". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Mike Wise (1995-07-07). "Knicks Crown Nelson Coach Of New York - tribunedigital-orlandosentinel". Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  10. ^ a b Hindsight, The Knicks And Nelson's Foresight, The New York Times, 2 March 2007]
  11. ^ Kelly Dwyer (2012-12-12). "Mark Cuban contends that Don Nelson once wanted to trade Jason Terry for … Raul Lopez?". Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  12. ^ Hu, Janny (December 14, 2006). "Barnes turns Warriors into believers". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  13. ^ "Ellis edges Martin, wins most improved award". 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  14. ^ Beacham, Greg (2008-02-01). "Chris Webber hopes ancient feud stays buried when he rejoins Warriors". Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  15. ^ Warriors' Webber calls it quits, Retrieved on March 25, 2008.
  16. ^ Dubow, Josh (2008-03-25). "Chris Webber ends comeback, will retire". Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  17. ^ Berman, Marc (2015-05-30). "Don Nelson: Stephen Curry pick wasn't vendetta vs. Knicks | New York Post". Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  18. ^ McCallum, Jack, "Golden Days" (2017), p. 53
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ Simmons, Rusty. No more Nellieball for the Warriors. San Francisco Chronicle, 2010-09-24.
  21. ^ Simmons, Rusty (February 4, 2011). "Nelson cites Warriors' effort, calls roster flawed". San Francisco Chronicle. p. B-1. Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. It was done really professionally", Nelson said. "I talked to (Lacob) on the phone before I got fired, and I was really impressed. I was a little surprised with the way things happened, but I think it is for the best for everybody.
  22. ^ "Basketball Hall of Fame: Don Nelson inducted". 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  23. ^ "Milwaukee Bucks coach Don Nelson has given up his...". United Press International. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. May 22, 1986.
  24. ^ a b "Warriors coach Nelson married in Coliseum". The Signal. Santa Clarita, California. AP. June 30, 1991. p. 23. Retrieved May 1, 2018 – via
  25. ^ a b c d Williams, Alex (April 30, 2018). "Don Nelson Talks Hoops, Poker and, Uh, Weed". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  26. ^ Simmons, Rusty (2012-03-20). "Hall of Fame? Don Nelson prefers graduating". SFGate. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  27. ^ "Dallas Mavericks: Ex-Mavs coach Don Nelson set to graduate 50 years after leaving Iowa | SportsDay". Retrieved 2017-03-25.

External links

1962 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans

The consensus 1962 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of six major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Associated Press, the USBWA, The United Press International, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and The Sporting News. 1962 was the last year that The Sporting News teams were used, although they would once again be used to determine consensus teams, starting in 1998.

1968 NBA Finals

The 1968 NBA World Championship Series pitted the Boston Celtics from the East, against the Los Angeles Lakers from the West, for the sixth time in ten years. The Celtics won their tenth NBA Championship in twelve seasons, by defeating the Lakers in six games. Significantly, Game 6 of the 1968 NBA Finals marked the first time that any NBA competition had taken place during the month of May.

1969 NBA Finals

The 1969 NBA World Championship Series to determine the champion of the 1968–69 NBA season was played between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, the Lakers being heavily favored due to the presence of three formidable stars: Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jerry West. In addition, Boston was an aging team; they made the playoffs as the 4th place team in the Eastern Division, and were not favored to make it to the finals. The Celtics' finals victory – the last championship of the Bill Russell dynasty – is considered one of the great upsets in NBA history.

This series is also notable in that West, with an average of nearly 38 points a game, won the Finals Most Valuable Player award, despite being on the losing team. This was the first year a Finals MVP award was given, and it remains the only time in NBA Finals history that the MVP was awarded to a player on the losing team. It also marks the first time ever in NBA Finals history that a Game 7 was won by the road team.

Don Nelson (screenwriter)

Don Nelson (January 20, 1927 – September 10, 2013) was an American screenwriter, film producer and jazz musician. He is best known for his work on the American situation comedy The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, for which he wrote from 1952 to 1966. The series starred his elder brother Ozzie Nelson, his sister-in-law Harriet Nelson and his nephews David Nelson and Ricky Nelson.

Nelson was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey.Nelson worked for several famous entertainment businesses, including Universal Studios and Fox Studios; he also co-wrote four films for Disney Studios and wrote for the 1968–1970 CBS situation comedy The Good Guys, starring Bob Denver, Herb Edelman, and Joyce Van Patten. During the late 1950s, Nelson started a musical career which lasted over four decades. He had worked with Johnny Varro and was also a member of two Jazz bands. Nelson died at his home in Studio City, California due to Parkinson’s disease.

Don Nelson Laramore

Don Nelson Laramore (December 22, 1906 – August 9, 1989) was a Judge of the United States Court of Claims and later a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Don Page (physicist)

Don Nelson Page, , (born December 31, 1948) is an American-born Canadian theoretical physicist at the University of Alberta, Canada.

General manager (basketball)

In the National Basketball Association and Women's National Basketball Association, the General Manager or GM of a team typically controls player transactions and bears the primary responsibility on behalf of the team during contract negotiations with players.

The general manager is also normally the person who hires and fires the coaching staff, including the head coach.

The exact title and responsibilities held by a general manager can vary from team to team. Some teams choose to have both a general manager and a President of Basketball Operations. For example, when Red Auerbach was team president of the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, Jan Volk, the team's GM from 1984-1997, reported to Auerbach regarding basketball-related decisions. Others, such as the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA, have a general manager who is also Chief Executive Officer of the organization, effectively reporting only to the owner. Still others will place player personnel decisions in the hands of a head coach; for example, when Don Nelson became coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976, he also became its general manager. In these cases, coaching staffs generally report to a different executive officer within the organization.

Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in Oakland, California. The Warriors compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division. Founded in 1946 in Philadelphia, the Warriors relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1962 and took the city's name, before changing its geographic moniker to Golden State in 1971. They play their home games at the Oracle Arena.

The Warriors won the inaugural Basketball Association of America (BAA) championship in 1947, and won its second championship in 1956, led by Hall of Fame trio Paul Arizin, Tom Gola, and Neil Johnston. However, the Warriors would not return to similar heights in Philadelphia, and after a brief rebuilding period following the trade of star Wilt Chamberlain, the team moved to San Francisco. With star players Jamaal Wilkes and Rick Barry, the Warriors returned to title contention, and won their third championship in 1975, in what is largely considered one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.

This would precede another period of struggle in the 1980s, before becoming playoff regulars at the turn of the decade with stars Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin, colloquially referred to as "Run TMC". After failing to capture a championship, the team entered another rebuilding phase in the 2000s. The Warriors' fortunes changed in the 2010s, ushering in a new era of success led by Stephen Curry. After drafting perennial All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the team returned to championship glory in 2015, before winning another two in 2017 and 2018 with the help of former league MVP Kevin Durant.

Nicknamed the Dubs as a shortening of "W's", the Warriors hold several NBA records; they have registered the best ever regular season, most wins in a season (regular season and postseason combined), as well as the best ever postseason run. The team's six NBA championships are tied for third-most in NBA history with the Chicago Bulls. According to Forbes, the Warriors are the seventh highest valued sports franchise in the United States, and joint-tenth in the world, with an estimated value of approximately $3.1 billion.

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Charles Popovich (born January 28, 1949) is an American professional basketball coach. He is the head coach and President of the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Taking over as coach of the Spurs in 1996, Popovich is the longest tenured active coach in both the NBA and all major sports leagues in the United States. He is often called "Coach Pop" or simply "Pop."Popovich has the third most wins among coaches in NBA history, behind Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson. He has led the Spurs to a winning record in each of his 21 full seasons as head coach, surpassing Phil Jackson for the most consecutive winning seasons in NBA history. He has also led the Spurs to all five of their NBA titles, and is one of only five coaches in NBA history to win five titles—the others being Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley, and John Kundla.

Jeff Van Gundy

Jeffrey William Van Gundy (born January 19, 1962) is an American basketball coach. He is also a color commentator for ESPN. He has previously been the head coach of the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association.


KJNP (1170 AM) and KJHA (88.7 FM) are non-commercial radio stations simulcasting in North Pole and Houston, Alaska, respectively. The station airs a religious radio format. The station's studios and transmitter are located a short distance northeast of the city center of North Pole, off the Richardson Highway. KJNP is a Class A station broadcasting on the clear-channel frequency of 1170 AM.

In addition to the main stations, the broadcast is relayed by an additional 5 translators to widen its broadcast area.

These radio stations were founded by Don and Gen Nelson; the former died in 1997. The AM incarnation of KJNP was the first of these stations, launched in 1967. KJNP-FM and KJNP-TV both followed in 1981. KJHA followed many years later.

In addition to the broadcasting ministry, Don Nelson made scores of road trips over the course of several decades between Alaska and his home state of Minnesota, conducting another ministry along the Alaska Highway and in numerous small towns in Canada.

The station airs one of the few non-English-language programs aired in the Fairbanks area, a weekly program in Iñupiaq produced by parishioners from First Presbyterian Church of Fairbanks.

Keith Smart

Jonathan Keith Smart (born September 21, 1964) is an American basketball coach and former player who is an assistant coach for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is perhaps best remembered for hitting the game-winning shot in the 1987 NCAA championship game. The shot gave the Indiana Hoosiers a 74–73 victory over the Syracuse Orangemen. He had transferred to Indiana from Garden City Community College in Kansas where he was a two-year standout and Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year.After two seasons at Indiana, Smart was signed by the San Antonio Spurs, with whom he played two games in the 1988–89 season. In 12 minutes, Smart scored two points and had two assists and one rebound. Smart later played in the Philippines, with the San Miguel Beermen of the PBA, in the 1989 Reinforced Conference, where he played through an injury and was eventually replaced by Ennis Whatley after only five games. After the PBA, he played in the World Basketball League: first with the Worcester Counts in 1989. He then played for the Youngstown Pride and was traded to the Halifax Windjammers in March 1991. Smart later played in the Continental Basketball Association with the Rapid City Thrillers (1995–96) and Fort Wayne Fury (1996–97). He also played two seasons in France, and one in Venezuela.In 2002, Smart finished the season as interim coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. His record was 9–31 with the club. In 2003, he became an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

In 2010, Smart took over for Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson before the start of the 2010-11 training camp.The Warriors fired Smart on April 27, 2011 following a 36 win season, a 10-game improvement from the previous season. He joined the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach in November 2011. On January 5, 2012, the Kings named Smart head coach after firing Paul Westphal. He recorded a 48–93 record over parts of two seasons with the team. On May 31, 2013, the Kings fired Smart with one year remaining on his contract.

On September 17, 2014, the Miami Heat announced they had hired Smart as an assistant coach.

List of Dallas Mavericks head coaches

The Dallas Mavericks are an American professional basketball team based in Dallas, Texas. They play in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team joined the NBA in 1980 as an expansion team, and won their first Western Conference championship in 2006. The Mavericks have played their home games at the American Airlines Center since 2001. The Mavericks are owned by Mark Cuban, and Donnie Nelson is their general manager.There have been nine head coaches for the Mavericks franchise. The franchise's first head coach was Dick Motta, who served for two non-consecutive stints, and coached for nine seasons with the Mavericks. Motta is the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular-season games lost (409); Carlisle is the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular-season game wins (437); Avery Johnson is the franchise's all-time leader for the most playoff games coached (47), the most playoff-game wins (23), and the highest winning percentage in the regular season (.735). Nelson is also named one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history. Johnson led the Mavericks to the franchise's first Finals appearance in 2006, only to lose to the Miami Heat in six games. Johnson is also the only Mavericks coach to have won the NBA Coach of the Year Award, having won it in the 2005–06 season. Quinn Buckner and Jim Cleamons have spent their entire NBA coaching careers with the Mavericks. Only one of the Mavericks coaches, Don Nelson has been elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. Rick Carlisle has been the head coach of the Mavericks since 2008. Carlisle led the Mavericks to the franchise's first NBA Championship in its second Finals appearance, defeating the Miami Heat in six games in the 2011 NBA Finals.

List of Golden State Warriors head coaches

The Golden State Warriors are an American professional basketball team based in Oakland, California. The franchise had been known as the Philadelphia Warriors and the San Francisco Warriors, due to it previously being based in or near those cities. The team is a member of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Warriors initially joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) as the Philadelphia Warriors in 1946, and won the first BAA championship title in the same year under coach Edward Gottlieb. The Warriors later joined the NBA at its foundation in 1949. The Warriors' record was 26–42 in their first NBA season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Syracuse Nationals. Franklin Mieuli and the Diners Club put together a group of 40 local investors to move the Warriors to San Francisco before the 1962–63 NBA season, with Mieuli eventually buying all the shares of the franchise to keep the team from collapsing and to keep it in the area. The team became the Golden State Warriors and moved to Oakland before the 1971–72 NBA season.There have been 25 head coaches for the Warriors franchise. The franchise won their first NBA championship as the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1956 NBA Finals, and were coached by George Senesky. Their second title was won as the Golden State Warriors in 1975, under coach Al Attles, who played with and coached the Warriors for 25 seasons. He is also the franchise's all-time leader in regular season games coached and wins. Steve Kerr leads the franchise in winning percentage for games coached.Frank McGuire is one of the members of the franchise that has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as coaches, while being the only one to do so that has spent his whole career with the franchise. Alex Hannum, Don Nelson, and Bill Sharman are the only other members of the franchise that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hannum, Nelson, and Kerr have both received the NBA Coach of the Year award once. Nelson has also been named one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history. Four former players for the Warriors, Attles, Johnston, George Lee, and Senesky went on to coach for the franchise.

List of Milwaukee Bucks head coaches

The Milwaukee Bucks are an American professional basketball franchise based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are a member of the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team plays their home games at the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks are owned by Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, with Jon Horst as their general manager.

Since the team was formed in 1968, there have been 15 head coaches for the Bucks franchise. The franchise won its only NBA championship in the 1971 NBA Finals under the leadership of its first coach, Larry Costello. Don Nelson is the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular season games coached (884), most regular season games won (540), most playoff games coached (88), the highest winning percentage in the regular season (.611), and most playoff games won (42). Nelson is also the only Bucks coach to win an NBA Coach of the Year Award and to be one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history. Larry Krystkowiak and Joe Prunty are the only people to have spent their entire head coaching career with the Bucks. Mike Dunleavy, Krystkowiak, and Scott Skiles have played and coached for the Bucks. Skiles was the head coach of the Bucks from 2008 until he and the team mutually agreed to part ways in 2013.

List of New York Knicks head coaches

The New York Knickerbockers are an American professional basketball team based in New York City. They are a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They play their home games at Madison Square Garden. The franchise's official name "Knickerbockers" came from the style of pants Dutch settlers wore when they came to America. Having joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the predecessor of the NBA, in 1946, the Knicks remain as one of the oldest teams in the NBA. During Red Holzman's tenure, the franchise won its only two NBA championships, the 1970 NBA Finals and the 1973 NBA Finals.

There have been 26 head coaches for the New York Knicks franchise. Holzman was the franchise's first Coach of the Year winner and is its all-time leader in regular-season games coached, regular-season games won, playoff games coached, and playoff games won. Holzman was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986 as a coach. Besides Holzman, Rick Pitino, Don Nelson, Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, and Larry Brown have been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as coaches. Four coaches have been named to the list of the top 10 coaches in NBA history. Neil Cohalan, Joe Lapchick, Vince Boryla, Carl Braun, Eddie Donovan and Herb Williams have spent their entire coaching careers with the Knicks. Boryla, Braun, Harry Gallatin, Dick McGuire, Willis Reed and Williams formerly played for the Knicks.

NBA Coach of the Year Award

The National Basketball Association's Coach of the Year is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1962–63 NBA season. The winner receives the Red Auerbach Trophy, which is named in honor of the head coach who led the Boston Celtics to nine NBA championships from 1956 to 1966. The winner is selected at the end of regular season by a panel of sportswriters from the United States and Canada, each of whom casts a vote for first, second and third place selections. Each first-place vote is worth five points; each second-place vote is worth three points; and each third-place vote is worth one point. The person with the highest point total, regardless of the number of first-place votes, wins the award.Since its inception, the award has been given to 40 different coaches. The most recent award winner is former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. Gregg Popovich, Don Nelson and Pat Riley have each won the award three times, while Hubie Brown, Mike D'Antoni, Bill Fitch, Cotton Fitzsimmons and Gene Shue have each won it twice. No coach has won consecutive Coach of the Year awards. Riley is the only coach to be named Coach of the Year with three different franchises. Larry Bird is the only recipient to have also been named MVP as a player. Tom Heinsohn, Bill Sharman, and Lenny Wilkens are the only recipients to have been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both player and coach. Johnny Kerr is the only person to win the award with a losing record (33–48 with the Chicago Bulls in 1966–67). Kerr was honored because he had guided the Bulls to the NBA Playoffs in their first season in the league. Doc Rivers is the only person to win the award despite his team not making the playoffs (41–41 with the Orlando Magic in 1999–2000). Only five recipients also coached the team that won the championship the same season: Red Auerbach, Red Holzman, Bill Sharman, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich. Popovich is the only NBA Coach of the Year recipient to win the championship in the same season twice, winning the NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 and 2014.

2015–16 recipient Steve Kerr only coached 39 of the 82 games in the season due to complications from offseason back surgery, though he received credit for all of the Golden State Warriors' 73 wins that season. Assistant coach Luke Walton served as interim head coach for the other 43 games for the Warriors, receiving one second-place vote and two third-place votes.

Point forward

Point forward is a nontraditional position in basketball, with a small forward - or sometimes a power forward or combo forward - adding the responsibilities of point guard to his or her play.


Run TMC was the high-scoring trio of basketball teammates consisting of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. Starting in 1989, they played together for two seasons with the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Coached by Don Nelson, the Warriors played a fast-paced, run-and-gun style, and Run TMC was the league's highest-scoring trio in the 1990–91 season. Despite their short time together, the popularity of Run TMC endured. Their name was a play on the hip hop group Run-DMC, with the first name initials of each member forming "TMC".

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