Don Nelson on Getting the Hall Call: “I feel really unworthy to be quite honest with you”

March 30, 2012 – 9:30 am by Chris Fedor

Hall-Of-Fame coach Don Nelson. It has a nice sound doesn’t it? It just seems fitting. After years of waiting, Nelson finally got the call that he had been waiting for and it is well-deserved. In fact it is surprising that it took so long for him to get inducted into the Hall-Of-Fame because of his numerous contributions to the game of basketball. Even though Nelson is missing a championship ring, his resume speaks for itself. Not only was he a three-time coach of the year but no coach has more wins than Don Nelson. Not to mention, Nelson brought numerous innovative strategies to the game and had a knack for turning around downtrodden franchises.

Don Nelson joined 95.7 the Game with the Wheelhouse to talk about when he heard about getting into the Hall-Of-Fame, who he would like to do his induction speech for the Hall-Of-Fame, what his best memories were from the NBA, on his poker game with Willie Nelson, and how much he still keeps up with the NBA.

When he heard about getting into the Hall-Of-Fame:

“6:00 in the morning. I’m up early anyways so I was just on my back porch having a cup of coffee and I got the call. (Host: What does that feel like?) It makes me feel great. Can it get any better than that? If that’s your business, and my life has been in basketball, so to go into the Hall of Fame it doesn’t get any better than that really. I feel really unworthy to be quite honest with you. There’s so many other guys like my great friend Al Attles that hasn’t gotten in, Dick Motta, Bill Fitch, and friends like that. Then here I’m going in. I’m really happy about it. My family and my friends are having such a great time. I must’ve had a thousand e-mails, texts, and it’s just been really exciting.”

Who he would like to do his induction speech for the Hall-Of-Fame:

“The guy I would love would be Chris Mullin. He got in either last year or the year before. I’m so proud of him. I would like to ask him. I haven’t talked to him yet but he’d be my first choice. (Host: That’d be quite an honor for him.) You would have to ask him. I haven’t talked to him yet but that’s my first choice. I’d love to have Chris do it. I love that guy so much, we have been through so much together, he’s just like my son. My son’s not in the Hall-Of-Fame yet but maybe someday he will get in there too. Chris is in, I would love to have him do it, and if not I will select somebody else.”

On his best memories from the NBA:

“I like to build things and I’m in the basketball industry. I really enjoyed going to teams that were poor or didn’t have a good record. That’s the way I started out in Milwaukee and built the franchise there. I was there for 11 years and the same thing with Golden State. They won like 20 games the year before. Then get into the situation, make trades, and go through the draft and build character guys and just build a team from scratch is the way I like to do it. It gives you a lot of losses along the way until you get good but that’s what I enjoy doing so when you do that you have to be innovative because you don’t have the best team and you end up with bad teams and you’re trying to win games. So you’re trying to figure out ways, creative ways, in which to keep your team involved and give them a chance to win. I enjoyed doing that and still do actually.”

On his poker game with Willie Nelson:

“We played last night and it was a lot of fun because all my friends were rooting for me to get into the Hall. We had fun, they were teasing me, joking, and told them there’s only two Hall-Of-Famers at this poker table, me and Willie. Anybody else in the Hall-Of-Fame? They got a big laugh. It was a special day for me so my luck was running so I killed those poor guys.”

Whether he still follows the league:

“Yeah I do. I watch games that I like. I love watching San Antonio, the Warriors all the time, and of course ‘Smartie’ up there in Sacramento, I like to watch his team play and see how he is doing. Of course Dallas, so there’s teams I like to watch but I like to root against Miami.”

Listen to Don Nelson on 95.7 the Game in SF here

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