Warriors

Basketball behind him, Nelson invests in Hawaii

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Basketball behind him, Nelson invests in Hawaii

OAKLAND -- Don Nelson never knew just how much he would love retirement. In the Maui plantation town of Paia, he is far from the pressures of the fast-paced NBA lifestyle in which he thrived for more than three decades to become the game's all-time winningest coach.

These days, he's Nellie, the entrepreneur. From his new shaved ice stand, to coffee plants and koa trees, to all his rental properties and a wedding venue in the works right off the beach, the 72-year-old Nelson is about as far removed from his old basketball life as he could be.

Except for the fact he is a Hall of Famer at last, set to be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 7 in Springfield, Mass. After years of being left off the list, Nelson was surprised it finally happened considering he never won that coveted NBA championship during 31 years on the bench with the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks.

NEWS: Don Nelson voted to Basketball Hall of Fame

It never bothered him much. He's in a relaxed, Hawaii state of mind.

Nelson also farms flowers - he gives them away because ''there's not much money in flowers'' - and will make olive oil from his olive trees. He's even dabbling in dog food.

''It's treating me well. I'm a lucky man,'' he said of island life. ''I found out that there's life after basketball, which is very exciting. I really haven't missed it that much, but I've been very busy, so that's probably part of the reason.''

''I invested my fortune on Maui,'' he added with a smile. ''Those are the fun things I'm doing.''

He plays poker at least three times a week with his close-knit group of friends and has become a decent golfer. Those are the guys he called when he got word he was headed to the Hall.

''I always kind of felt I was undeserving of getting there,'' he said. ''I still feel unworthy, really. Somebody voted for me, I guess. ... I didn't have a feeling of what it would be. It's really nice. It's a pinnacle of everybody's career.''

Nellie always did things his way, and it hardly mattered who objected to his coaching techniques. He ranks No. 1 on the NBA wins list because of it. From his all-guard, up-tempo ''Nellie Ball'' lineups to his feuds with fiery Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and even publicly calling for struggling Warriors center Andris Biedrins to shoot underhanded, ''granny style'' free throws, Nelson had a distinct way of coaching that made him one of the greatest of all time.

''I've had one of those very special lives, really, I've been in the NBA since I was 22,'' he said. ''So it's almost 50 years of my life I've been in the NBA. ... You have a lot of ups and downs in coaching, especially, but I can't remember any bad times at this point. I mean, they're all good. A lot of tears when you lose, a lot of down times, but I can't remember any of them. They're all positive now. Even the bad times were good. One of those storybook lives, really.''

Nelson said he didn't intend to define himself by playing small ball - ''If I'd have had good big players, I'd have played big ball.''

As he looks back over all the players he coached, those days with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are among the best.

But Nelson learned more about himself while coaching Sarunas Marciulionis during the guard's early days with the Warriors in the late 1980s and early 90s. It got to the point Nelson noticed his behavior on film and asked himself ''Who is that maniac on the sidelines? It was me.''

He changed his ways in a hurry. It wasn't so hard after he watched what he was doing to the young men whose lives he took pride in shaping on the court each day.

''I was verbally abusive to my players on the floor too much,'' he said. ''I tried to change that and be more like Lenny Wilkens.''

He had a lot more fun after that. And won a lot, too.

''How did I last so long? I got hired,'' Nelson said.

During his first job with the Bucks, Nelson had a chance to become the head coach in Boston but turned down the late Red Auerbach because of his loyalty to Milwaukee owner Jim Fitzgerald.

''Part of it was my own doing,'' Nelson said. ''As a career move, that would have been ... because they won how many championships after that? So I stayed and coached and whatever my life was after that, but it was (devoid) of championships. The other part, I really enjoyed taking over bad teams and making good ones out of them. That was building something that wasn't very attractive and making it attractive.''

New Warriors owner Joe Lacob parted ways with Nelson right before training camp ahead of the 2010-11 season, opting to pay Nelson 6 million to take his NBA-best 1,335 victories out of the gym and to the white sand beaches of his Hawaiian home. So much for Nellie spending another year with the organization volunteering his time.

''I would have. I got fired,'' he said. ''Instead of me giving them a year, they gave me one.''

Nelson led the Warriors to their last two playoff appearances - in 1994, then a surprising run to the second round in 2007 during his second stint with the franchise.

Guiding that '07 ''We Believe'' team, as it became known, with Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson leading the charge, is among Nelson's career highlights - even if the team didn't stay together long afterward.

''It's up there. I don't know how I can rank things,'' he said. ''That's one of the highlights, for sure.''

Nelson now subscribes to the NBA package and still watches the Warriors, Timberwolves and Mavericks with interest. Just no longer with a coach's eye.

Life has changed for Nelson, big time.

''Totally different. That's the beauty of it,'' he said. ''The local people really couldn't care less who you are. They don't seek autographs or anything like that, tourists occasionally.''

And, this time, he isn't planning any kind of coaching comeback. He means it.

''I'd say I'm retired,'' Nelson said. ''I'm done, I'm cooked. It's over.''

Bravo For Durant: No White House visit proves he has a set of principles

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AP

Bravo For Durant: No White House visit proves he has a set of principles

Though the Warriors have yet to receive an invitation to visit the White House in the wake of their championship season, one of their superstars already has decided he would not participate.

Kevin Durant, the NBA Finals MVP who grew up practically in the shadow of the White House, said he would not visit.

"Nah, I won't do that," Durant told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now."

Bravo for Durant. For speaking up when so many others are silent and, by acknowledging that this is an individual decision, proving he is willing to stand on a personal set of principles.

Visiting his hometown of Seat Pleasant, Md. for “Kevin Durant Day,” the forward didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name but made clear his disdain for the man who currently occupies the White House.

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that," Durant said. "That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Durant is not the first Warrior to publicly express such sentiments. Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston have specifically said they would not be willing to make the visit that has become customary for American championship teams. Coach Steve Kerr and veteran forward David West have been vocal in denouncing Trump’s discriminatory rhetoric and boorish behavior.

Uncertain whether an invitation is forthcoming, the Warriors issued a statement in June saying any collective decision regarding a White House visit would be made “when and if necessary.”

Their championship season ended two months ago. Training camp for next season begins next month. There has been no invitation.

Durant’s comments Thursday represent his first that directly address the possibility of visiting the White House. The Warriors, after their 2105 championship, made the visit when Barack Obama was president.

"I just wanted to sit back and analyze everything and gather my thoughts," he told ESPN. "I wanted to say something immediately, but I definitely want to be the voice of where I come from and people who have come from my neighborhood and deal with oppression.”

Addressing the division that has infected the national landscape, Durant pointed directly at Trump.

"He's definitely driving it," Durant said. "I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided and it's not a coincidence. When Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black president, and that was a first.

"So, to see that, and to be where we are now, it just felt like we took a turn for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top -- leadership trickles down to the rest of us. So, you know, if we have someone in office that doesn't care about all people, then we won't go anywhere as a country. In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won't see any progress."

Though not all Warriors have publicly commented on the subject, Durant’s hunch is accurate. This team has a collective conscience. There are causes in which every member believes, and two such causes are equality and inclusiveness.

Those alone are enough to ensure they would not splinter on this issue.

Kevin Durant doesn't respect Donald Trump: 'Until we get him out of here...'

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AP

Kevin Durant doesn't respect Donald Trump: 'Until we get him out of here...'

If the Warriors get invited to the White House and accept, will Kevin Durant attend?

"Nah, I won't do that," the 2017 NBA Finals MVP told ESPN's Chris Haynes on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that. That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

The Warriors are scheduled to play the Wizards in Washington D.C. on Feb. 28 (which happens to be the same date of last season's game in D.C. when Durant injured his knee).

On Monday, Steve Kerr provided an update.

"We have talked as an organization about a potential White House invitation and what that would mean," he told Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game. "A couple weeks ago we decided let's get the players together and talk about it later this summer when we can -- just before Media Day probably.

"And we'll do that, and I'll just leave it at that."

Durant -- who is from Maryland -- was in his hometown of Seat Pleasant on Thursday to celebrate "Kevin Durant Day."

He didn't hold back when discussing Donald Trump.

"I feel ever since he's got into office, or since he ran for the presidency, our country has been so divided and it's not a coincidence. When Obama was in office, things were looking up. We had so much hope in our communities where I come from because we had a black President, and that was a first.

"So, to see that, and to be where we are now, it just felt like we took a turn for the worse, man. It all comes from who is in the administration. It comes from the top -- leadership trickles down to the rest of us.

"So, you know, if we have someone in office that doesn't care about all people, then we won't go anywhere as a country. In my opinion, until we get him out of here, we won't see any progress."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller