Don Nelson’s tenure as head coach of the Golden State Warriors was marked by one shining moment and countless infuriating ones. Between Nelson’s influence on personnel decisions, his rotations, his handling of players, and the general quagmire that plagued the Warriors organization as a whole, few things seemed to go right in the Bay. Moving on from that trend by ditching Nelson and promoting Warriors assistant Keith Smart was in the franchise’s best interests, even if Nelson had become an almost comically overused scapegoat for the Warriors’ various ailments by the end.
Now Nelson is undoubtedly living the Hawaii life, enjoying his long-time home away from his NBA homes. And presumably, he’d be doing so for a long, long time. He’s coached NBA basketball since 1976, and at a cool 70 years of age, it seemed safe to say that Nelson’s days of coaching pro ball were behind him.
His son, Donnie Nelson, general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t quite so sure that’s the case. From Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse:
“Never say never,” Donnie Nelson told FanHouse of his dad possibly returning to the bench. “I thought when he was the godfather (in Dallas after handing the coaching reins to Avery Johnson in March 2005), I thought that was the perfect existence. But he wanted to coach again. With him, you just never know.”
Despite his ballooned reputation, I’m not going to pretend that Nelson, hindrance to the Warriors though he was, is some kind of basketball evil. He still has value to an NBA team and its players, though Nelson minor is correct to assert the role of godfather/consultant as something of an ideal existence for his father. The full-time grind of head coaching seems to be a bit much for Nellie at this stage, and we can only hope that he sees the gig in similar terms. A comeback to basketball in a less prominent role could be a boon for both Nellie and the team that chooses to employ him, but an assumption that the legendary coach is ready to continue business as usual from the bench could be costly.