Don Nelson makes HOF, blabs the news early, then plays poker with Willie Nelson
Nelson immediately texted the news to everyone in his address book, despite being specifically told to embargo this information until the official announcement Monday. Then he informed the media he was going to play poker and smoke the night away with Willie Nelson.
Always unique and never terribly dignified, Don Nelson will be inducted in the 2012 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame, ESPN reports.
Nelson then spent Wednesday evening partying and playing poker with Willie Nelson, the Bay Area Newsgroup reports.
The innovative mad scientist of NBA coaches for an astonishing 31 seasons, Nelson's Hall of Fame candidacy has been knocked because he "never won a championship". In fact, this totally untrue. Nelson won five championships as a player with the Boston Celtics, and his No. 19 Celtics jersey has been retired.
From a basketball standpoint, Nelson may be the most influential NBA coach of the modern era. You ever hear the terms "small ball", "point forward", or "Hack-a-Shaq" during an NBA game telecast? Each of these is a basketball concept that was invented and first employed by Don Nelson.
That said, Nelson never won a title as a coach. His 1,335 wins are the most for any NBA coach ever, but his .557 career winning percentage does not even put him the top ten. Nellie's teams made the NBA playoffs in 18 of his 31 seasons, but boy did he coach some bad teams in between.
Nelson's specialty was turning around the perpetually dreadful franchise. He resurrected the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976 after Kareem bolted, ripping off six straight division titles. He drafted Dirk Nowitzki and built the Dallas Mavericks as we know them. And he was the architect of the "We Believe!" 2007 Golden State Warriors team that beat those Mavericks, the first and only No. 8 seed to ever beat a No. 1 seed in a seven-game NBA playoff series.
Nelson also totally sucked in '95-'96 as coach of the New York Knicks for not even a full season. His later career stops were all marred by bizarre and very public money disputes with team ownership. In his second Golden State tenure, Nelson was taking games off, behaving with outright contempt for his GM Chris Mullin, and taking on an increasingly Fred Flintstone-esque appearance.
This is my diplomatic way of saying that I think Nelson became more and more fond of bourbon later in his career.
The other nominees for the 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame class include Mo Cheeks, Reggie Miller, Rick Pitino, Bill Fitch, and a women's team called the All-American Red Heads, among others. I would totally pay money money to watch a team called the All-American Red Heads.
The full 2012 Basketball Hall of Fame class will be announced Monday, April 2.