|Birth Day:||May 15, 1940|
|Birth Place:||Muskegon, United States|
|#4||Ozzie Nelson||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||69||Actor|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He was a solid all-around player and one of the best sixth men with the Celtics.
After his senior year in high school, Nelson wasn't heavily recruited. His father did not see a future for Don in basketball and wanted him to become a watch repairman. University of Iowa Coach Sharm Scheuerman, who had graduated from Rock Island in 1952, recruited Nelson, who ultimately chose the Hawkeyes over Wheaton College and Nelson's hometown Augustana College.
Graduating in 1958, Nelson led the Rocks to a 47–7 record in his last two years under coach Bob Riley. He had 39 points and 20 rebounds against Moline High School and 30 points and 29 rebounds against No. 1-ranked Ottawa High School. As a junior, Nelson averaged 12.6 points as Rock Island finished 25–3. As a senior, Nelson averaged to 20.2 points, leading the Rocks to a 22–4 record in 1957–58.
In the era when NCAA freshman weren't allowed to play varsity, Nelson was joined on the Iowa campus by future Hall of Famer Connie Hawkins in 1960. However, after playing for the freshman Iowa team in 1960–1961, Hawkins was embroiled in the 1961 college basketball gambling scandal and left Iowa. Hawkins was never charged with a crime and was later reinstated by the NBA, who had banned him.
After his career at Iowa, Nelson was selected as the 17th draft pick in the 1962 NBA draft by the Chicago Zephyrs of the NBA.
As a rookie, Nelson averaged 17 minutes, playing alongside Walt Bellamy (27.9 points), Terry Dischinger (25.5 points), Si Green and Charlie Hardnett. Zephyrs Coach Jack McMahon was replaced by player Slick Leonard halfway through the season as Chicago finished 25–55. The Chicago Zephyrs moved to become the Baltimore Bullets (today's Washington Wizards) after the season. Nelson played for the Zephyrs for one season averaging 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 17 minutes. Nelson was then acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1963.
On September 6, 1963, Nelson was claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Lakers from the Chicago Zephyrs. He would play in 80 games in 1963–1964, but just 39 in 1964–1965 under coach Fred Schaus.
In 1964–1965, Nelson played little, averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in just six minutes per game in 39 games. The Lakers used Nelson more in the playoffs as they defeated Nelson's former team, the Baltimore Bullets in the playoffs 4–2. Nelson averaged 5.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the series. The Lakers then faced the Boston Celtics in the 1965 NBA Finals. The Lakers lost to the Celtics 4–1, as Nelson averaged 7.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists and 20 minutes in the series.
After playing against them the season before in the NBA Finals, Nelson was signed as a free agent by the Boston Celtics on October 28, 1965.
Four more championships with Boston followed in 1968, 1969, 1974, and 1976.
In 1967–1968, Nelson was one of seven Celtics to average in double figures, as the Celtics finished 54–28 under player/coach Bill Russell. Nelson joined Russell, Havlicek, Bailey Howell, Sam Jones, Sanders and Siegfried in double digit scoring. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 4–2 in the 1968 NBA Finals to capture the NBA Championship. In the 1968 NBA Finals, Nelson averaged 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 27 minutes.
In the 1974 NBA Finals, the Celtics faced the Milwaukee Bucks , with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bobby Dandridge. In game seven at Milwaukee, Nelson started over Silas and played a key part in double-teaming Abdul-Jabbar. He scored six points in 17 minutes as Boston had a 13-point halftime lead and won 102–87, securing their 4th NBA Championship with Nelson.
Nelson played his last season in 1975–1976, and won his 5th NBA Championship as Boston defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 1976 NBA Finals 4–2. Nelson averaged 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in the regular season and 9.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in the playoffs.
Nelson began his coaching career as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1976. After a 3–15 start to the season, Larry Costello resigned and Nelson was named Head Coach. A year later he became General Manager of the Bucks and soon began to show what would later become his signature style of wheeling and dealing players. 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. On November 25, 1977, the day after Thanksgiving, Nelson managed the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NBA history. With Milwaukee down twenty-nine points to Atlanta, on the road, and with only 8:43 remaining, the Bucks went on a 35–4 run to win 117–115 in regulation. At the time, there was no three-point field goal.
Nelson retired as a player following the 1975–76 season. His number 19 jersey was retired to the Boston Garden rafters in 1978. In 872 games with Boston over 11 seasons, Nelson averaged 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
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.
This system, known as "Nellie Ball", 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. For seven straight years, finishing no worse than second best in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks ended 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, Nelson left the Bucks.
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. Nelson headed a weight loss drive to raise more money for Willcome and the Wisconsin Farm Fund.
May 27, 1987, Nelson resigned as head coach of the Bucks. In 11 seasons, Nelson had a 540–344 (.611) record with Milwaukee. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1985.
Nelson married Joy Wolfgram at the Oakland Coliseum in June 1991. Nelson and his wife have a total of six children from prior marriages. He 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. She now lives in Maui near Nelson and his wife.
Nelson continued to retool the team, drafting All-Star Latrell Sprewell in 1992. 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. Despite Webber averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the 1994 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 on November 7, 1994 for Tom Gugliotta and three future 1st round draft picks (1996, 1998 and 2000).
In 1994, Nelson coached the Team USA national basketball team at the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Toronto, and led them to the Gold Medal. The team was marketed as "Dream Team II".
Nelson resigned as head coach of the Warriors on February 13, 1995. He made the playoffs with Golden State in four of his six seasons there. Subsequently, the Warriors did not qualify for the playoffs for the next 12 seasons, until he returned to the team in 2006.
Nelson was hired by the New York Knicks after their original choice, Chuck Daly, declined their coaching offer. In 1995, Nelson began his stint with the Knicks, which lasted from July 1995 until March 1996. Nelson coached the Knicks to a respectable 34–25 record, but his up-tempo style of offense sharply contrasted the Knicks' defensive style of play. Nelson also 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.
On March 8, 1996, Nelson was fired as head coach by the Knicks. He was replaced by his assistant, Jeff Van Gundy. He had a 34–25 record. New York finished 13–10 with Van Gundy, for an overall record of 47–35.
Nelson was named head coach and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 1997. He was coming to a team that had been dormant through the 1990s and a permanent fixture in the NBA lottery. In 1998, his first full off-season in charge, 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.
On December 29, 2001, 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. 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.
Nelson's son, Donnie Nelson is the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks. Donnie was Don's assistant coach with the Mavericks when Don won his 1,000th NBA game. Donnie moved from coaching to become the president of basketball operations for the Mavericks in 2002 while his father was still coaching Dallas. Donnie Nelson was an assistant coach for Lithuania in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
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 off-season, Steve Nash was offered a max contract by the Phoenix Suns; despite Nelson's insistence on matching the offer, Mark Cuban declined and Nash accepted Phoenix's offer. Nash won consecutive MVPs with the Suns the following two seasons.
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 as GM. The Mavericks reached the NBA Finals the following season, though they would lose to the Miami Heat in six games.
On August 29, 2006, Nelson returned to the Golden State Warriors for a second stint as head coach. Chris Mullin, a 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 with the Pacers to obtain Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson.
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. His 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. The Warriors finished 48–34 that season, their most wins since 1993–94 (during Nelson's first stint with the team). However, in a tightly contested Western Conference, the Warriors missed the playoffs by two games.
The next two seasons saw the Warriors plunge back into mediocrity (29–53 and 26–56), losing most of the players from their 2007 playoff run to either trades or free agency. The first of his two losing seasons brought the Warriors the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, and Nelson pushed the team to draft Stephen Curry, despite skepticism from critics. Curry would go on to win back-to-back MVP awards and helped lead Golden State to championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
In the summers, while a player and when he became an NBA coach, Nelson would continually work with his Rock Island High School coach Bob Riley at a basketball camp and the two would play golf after. Riley died in 2009. "He always made sure he checked in on my dad," said Bob's son Jack Riley.
On September 23, 2010, Nelson announced he would resign as head coach. 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. In February 2011, Nelson 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."
“What I remember most about it is playing for Sharm and our relationship over 50 years and how close we were and how much I loved that man,” Nelson reflected in 2012 of Scheuerman, who died in 2010. “A role model certainly, but I could never duplicate that man’s life because he was so special. I certainly tried. I’m certainly a better person just by knowing him and talking to him. But we spent a lot of time together over the last 50 years.”
Nelson graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in physical education in 2012. He left Iowa in 1962 with his degree coursework nearly completed. He later took Spanish classes to fulfill some of his missing 8 foreign language credit hours. He still lacked student-teaching credits. When 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. He attended and received his diploma with over 45 family and friends accompanying him.
Currently, Don Nelson is 81 years, 8 months and 3 days old. Don Nelson will celebrate 82nd birthday on a Sunday 15th of May 2022.
Find out about Don Nelson birthday activities in timeline view here.