62 Facts About Don Nelson


Donald Arvid Nelson was born on May 15,1940 and is an American former professional basketball player and head coach.

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Don Nelson coached the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Golden State Warriors.

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Don Nelson was named one of the Top 10 coaches in NBA history.

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Don Nelson was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

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Son of Arvid and Agnes Nelson, Don Nelson grew up with his family and two sisters on his grandfather's rural Illinois farm near Sherrard, Illinois.

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Don Nelson first learned basketball shooting in the chicken yard where a spokeless bicycle wheel was nailed to the shed to make a basket.

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Don Nelson attended Rock Island High School, in Rock Island, one of the Quad Cities.

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The Nelsons lived in downtown Rock Island on 19th street and Don would walk to school, stopping to shoot baskets at several different locations along the way.

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Don Nelson would go to the YMCA after practice and shoot more.

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Don Nelson had 39 points and 20 rebounds against Moline High School and 30 points and 29 rebounds against No 1-ranked Ottawa High School.

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Don Nelson's father did not see a future for Don in basketball and wanted him to become a watch repairman.

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Don Nelson was then acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1963.

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On September 6,1963, Don Nelson was claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Lakers from the Chicago Zephyrs.

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Don Nelson became a sixth man off the bench for Boston, playing alongside Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Satch Sanders, John Havlicek and KC Jones, as well as Larry Siegfried, Willie Naulls and Mel Counts.

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Don Nelson joined Russell, Havlicek, Bailey Howell, Sam Jones, Sanders and Siegfried in double digit scoring.

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In Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals, against his former team, Don 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.

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In game seven at Milwaukee, Don Nelson started over Silas and played a key part in double-teaming Abdul-Jabbar.

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Don Nelson was coined as one of the best "sixth men" ever to play in the NBA.

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Don Nelson was known for his distinctive one-handed style for shooting free throws.

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Don Nelson began his coaching career as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976.

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Don Nelson made his first trade in 1977 by sending Swen Nater to the Buffalo Braves and turned the draft pick he received into Marques Johnson, who had a solid career with the Bucks.

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On November 25,1977, the day after Thanksgiving, Don Nelson managed the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA history.

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Don Nelson pioneered the concept of the point forward – a tactic wherein small forwards are used to direct the offense.

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Don Nelson earned NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1983 and 1985.

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Don Nelson decided to go with Golden State, at first buying a minority stake in the team before being named head coach and vice president after one season away from the NBA.

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Don Nelson continued to retool the team, drafting All-Star Latrell Sprewell in 1992.

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Don Nelson traded the Warriors' number 3 pick Penny Hardaway to the Orlando Magic for their number one overall pick Chris Webber during the 1993 NBA draft.

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Don Nelson reportedly offered to resign rather than let the team trade away their young star, but nonetheless Webber was dealt to the Washington Bullets on November 7,1994, for Tom Gugliotta and three future 1st round draft picks.

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Don Nelson resigned as head coach of the Warriors on February 13,1995.

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Don Nelson made the playoffs with Golden State in four of his six seasons there.

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In 1994, Don Nelson coached the Team USA national basketball team at the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Toronto, and led them to the gold medal.

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Don Nelson was hired by the New York Knicks after their original choice, Chuck Daly, declined their coaching offer.

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In 1995, Don Nelson began his stint with the Knicks, which lasted from July 1995 until March 1996.

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Don Nelson suggested the Knicks trade Patrick Ewing and a position to make an offer to Shaquille O'Neal, who was rumored to be interested in a move to New York.

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Don Nelson was named head coach and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 1997.

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Don Nelson was coming to a team that had been dormant through the 1990s and a permanent fixture in the NBA lottery.

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In 1998, his first full off-season in charge, Don Nelson worked out draft day deals with the Milwaukee Bucks and 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.

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Trio of Nash, Finley and Nowitzki became the foundation for the Mavericks dramatic turnaround, as Don Nelson coached the Mavericks to four consecutive 50-win seasons.

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On March 19,2005, Don Nelson stepped down as Dallas' head coach, naming Avery Johnson as his successor.

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Don Nelson has spoken fondly of his time in Dallas, but admitted he lost interest in remaining with the team when they did not re-sign Nash.

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Don Nelson faced his former team, the Dallas Mavericks, in the first round of the playoffs.

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In one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history, Don Nelson coached the 8th-seeded Warriors to series victory over the top-seeded Mavericks in six games.

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On January 29,2008, Chris Webber signed with the Warriors, reuniting with Don Nelson and returning to the team that had drafted him 15 years earlier.

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Don Nelson's return lasted only nine games as he was forced to retire due to injuries, but his return signaled closure to arguably the biggest blemish on Nelson's otherwise impressive resume as a player's coach.

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The first of his two losing seasons brought the Warriors the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, and Don Nelson pushed the team to draft Stephen Curry, despite skepticism from critics.

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On December 29,2001, Don Nelson became the third coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games, behind Lenny Wilkens and Pat Riley.

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Don Nelson won his 1,300th career game on February 21,2009, joining Wilkens as the only coach to pass this milestone.

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Don Nelson defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 7,2010, achieving his 1,333rd career win and passing Lenny Wilkens for first all-time on the list of the NBA's winningest coaches.

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Don Nelson finished his career with 1,335 regular season victories.

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Don Nelson married Joy Wolfgram at the Oakland Coliseum in June 1991.

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Don Nelson has a daughter born out of wedlock and put up for adoption, whom he did not know about for 29 years, who first reached out to him in 1997, not wanting anything in return.

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Donnie Nelson was an assistant coach for Lithuania in the 1992,1996 and 2000 Olympics.

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Don Nelson coached Nowitzki for his first six NBA seasons in Dallas.

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Don Nelson said, 'Just stand there in the paint and wave at him.

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Don Nelson had a hand in the Celtics drafting teammate Steve Kuberski.

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The idea originated from Wisconsin dairy farmer Clarence Willcome, to whom Nelson donated his $11,000 1986 NBA Playoffs bonus compensation.

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Don Nelson headed a weight loss drive to raise more money for Willcome and the Wisconsin Farm Fund.

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Don Nelson graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in physical education in 2012.

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Don Nelson left Iowa in 1962 with his degree coursework nearly completed.

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Don Nelson later took Spanish classes to fulfill some of his missing 8 foreign language credit hours.

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When Don Nelson called the university, after being inspired by Shaquille O'Neal to finish his degree, Iowa decided that his lifetime of teaching through NBA coaching would fulfill that requirement and invited him to the graduation ceremony in 2012.

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Don Nelson attended and received his diploma with over 45 family and friends accompanying him.

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