Last night, Don Nelson finally achieved his never-ending journey to become the winningest coach in NBA history, with his 1,333rd win. In 31 seasons on the bench, Nelson is 1,333-1,061, in a career that has made stops in Milwaukee, Golden State (twice), New York, and Dallas. He won five titles as a player, has been named coach of the year three times, but has never made an NBA Finals as a coach.
Let me repeat that last point for you..."has never made an NBA Finals as a coach."
So why are we celebrating the lifetime achievement award to Nellie, where frankly I believe his hard-headedness and total disregard to the defensive side of the ball has placed this man on the top of some prestigious list that we're supposed to celebrate? It's not happening.
Let's look at the top four winningest coaches of all-time real quick:
Coach Wins Seasons Titles
Don Nelson 1,333 31 0
Lenny Wilkens 1,332 32 1
Pat Riley 1,210 24 5
Jerry Sloan 1,187 25 0
First thing is this, all hail my frat brother Lenny Wilkens, who was the previous holder of this title of "Most Winningest Coach." Let me be the first to say that I do not, by any means, think that Lenny is the greatest NBA coach of all-time. Hell, I don't even think he's one of the top five head coaches of all-time. However, the man has a ring (won as a player-coach with the 1978 Seattle Sonics), and that's enough for me. Pat Riley is a legend; five rings and coached some of the greatest basketball talent that's ever been seen on this Earth.
But what about Jerry Sloan? I would take Jerry Sloan over Don Nelson any day of the week. The man has coached for one team almost his entire career (three years with Chicago, 22 with Utah), and when you break out the law of averages...Nellie only averages 43 wins/season while Sloan averages 47.5. Moreover, Sloan did take his team to two Finals appearances with the Jazz, and in his 22 years as Utah's head coach, he's only missed the playoffs four times. Nellie's missed the playoffs with Golden State in three of the last four years.
Yes, I can understand that "Nellie-ball" is cool. His players play like thoroughbreds and run up and down the court and shoot threes like they are about to go out of style. However, as a coach, what has he accomplished? Not a damn thing...
Wait...that last statement is somewhat blasphemous.
He brought us the 2006-07 Golden State Warriors. I know that there are people out there right now that consider this one of the greatest collections of talent this league has ever seen that didn't really mean squat in the end. Kinda like Run-TMC? Kinda like Nash-Nowitzki-Finley in Dallas? Even some of those Milwaukee teams in the 80's he had with Terry Cummings, Mark Aguirre, Sidney Moncrief, Marques Johnson, Junior Bridgeman, Bob Lanier, and Mike-effin-Dunleavy, Sr. Nellie-ball has been at this for over 30 years!
Think about that Golden State team for a second...Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Al Harrington, Monta Ellis, Biedrins, Pietrus...WTF HAPPENED? This was the illest time I'd ever seen in my lifetime. The way they dismantled a #1 seed like Dallas was truly remarkable. Yet somehow, in the last three years, after one of the greatest upsets in basketball history, he's taken this team to the bottoms of hell and traded off or failed to resign almost every important piece on the team. He won't play rookies, and players didn't want to play for him anymore. For a team that played such a "fun" game, cats are not having fun.
So for ruining a team that could've been legendary, Don Nelson you get the seal of disapproval. Why? Because you are so committed to running some type of tomfoolery and shenanigans of an offensive system, that you never got the lesson from your dear old coach Red Auerbach, and you know what that is Nellie?
"Basketball is like war, in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up." - Red Auerbach
YO DON! CATCH YO MONKEY ASS UP OR GET OUT THE DAMN GAME! YOU ARE RUINING GREAT BASKETBALL BEFORE OUR VERY EYES, AND I REFUSE TO STAND HERE AND LET THIS CONTINUE ON MY WATCH! GO HOME AND MAKE A COCKTAIL AND A CHEESE SANDWICH AND CALL IT A DAY! THANKS IN ADVANCE, HOMIE.