Basketball behind him, Nelson invests in Hawaii


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.''

Source: Warriors contact Turner Sports about Shaq's abuse of McGee

Source: Warriors contact Turner Sports about Shaq's abuse of McGee

OAKLAND -- Mess with one Warrior, you mess with the entire organization.

That’s the message the Warriors sent out Friday in the wake of a Twitter beef between center JaVale McGee and TNT analyst Shaquille ONeal that began late Thursday night and carried into the wee hours Friday morning.

Coach Steve Kerr fired back at O’Neal, as did Warriors forward Kevin Durant. The Warriors, as a franchise, contacted O’Neal’s bosses.

Kerr spent a portion of his post-practice news conference Friday afternoon defending McGee from O’Neal’s relentless ridicule on the video segment “Shaqtin’ A Fool.” Durant said O’Neal’s ongoing critiques are “childish,” adding that O’Neal was a great player with his own imperfections.

Prior to the comments by Durant and Kerr, though, it was confirmed by that the Warriors contacted Turner Sports in hopes of getting TNT’s parent company to persuade O’Neal to curb the constant derision directed toward McGee because of its impact on his image and reputation.

The outreach was a direct response to a roughly two-minute segment Thursday night that was strictly limited to castigating McGee.

Upon getting wind of Durant’s comments, O’Neal turned to Twitter to tell Durant that McGee is a “bum” and to “mind yo business.”

Durant defends JaVale, blasts Shaq: 'He didn’t have any skill'

Durant defends JaVale, blasts Shaq: 'He didn’t have any skill'

OAKLAND -- The long-simmering acrimony between retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and Warriors center JaVale McGee reached epic proportions late Thursday night and early Friday morning when the two engaged in a Twitter beef.

By Friday afternoon, Kevin Durant was stepping into the fray. He didn’t bother with Twitter, instead speaking his mind and firing verbal grenades at Shaq.

“JaVale works extremely hard,” Durant said after practice. “He has come in here and done so much for us as a player. He only wants to be respected, just like anybody else. And I understand that Shaq works for a company that wants him to do that type of stuff, and make fun of players. It’s cool and funny.

“But when you just keep doing it time and time and time again, for no reason, and then a guy actually disagrees with you? And you threaten him? I didn’t know cops could threaten civilians like that.”

O’Neal currently is a reserve police officer in Doral, Fla. He also has served in that capacity in several other cities.

The latest O’Neal-McGee spat began when O’Neal, now an analyst at TNT who frequently targets McGee for ridicule, presented a video Thursday night that mocked McGee. It was very personal.

McGee took offense and responded on Twitter, which led to the two men exchanging insults, with McGee accusing O’Neal of “cooning,” and O’Neal calling McGee “dumb” and threatening to “smack the s--t out” of McGee.

Though McGee was not available Friday, he was sharply defended by Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Durant.

“It’s definitely childish,” Durant said. “But that’s what they want from these stars and these retired players, is to feud with the guys that are playing now and make arguments and disagreements. If I was JaVale, I’d feel the same way. It’s childish.

“Shaq wants to make a joke about it, but if it was him in that position, he would feel the same way.

“Everybody can’t be Shaq. He’s trying to make his money and enjoy the game of basketball, and his perception of him is that he’s a ‘dumb’ player because he makes mistakes on the court. Shaq was a sh---y free-throw shooter. He missed dunks. He air-balled free throws. He couldn’t shoot outside the paint. He was bigger than everybody. He didn’t have any skill. But he was bigger and stronger than everybody.”

Durant then turned his head and seemed to speak directly to O’Neal.

“He was still a great player, but you had your flaws too as a player,” he said. “And you played on five of six teams, too. So it’s not like you’re this perfect center. You had your flaws too. Like I said, I didn’t know cops could go on Twitter and threaten civilians like that. I’m glad JaVale challenged him.”

Kerr, who has known O’Neal for more than 20 years, also came to McGee’s defense.

“I don’t blame him for being frustrated,” he said Kerr. “Shaq’s been picking on him for years and years and years. And JaVale, rightfully so, probably gets frustrated. It never ends. And it’s one thing to just have a little fun, but you can go a little bit over the top.

“It’s one of those things. If you think about JaVale’s career, when you’re in this position where someone is on national TV making fun of you night after night, it’s not the greatest thing for your reputation.

“I can tell you, I had a preconceived notion of JaVale before he got here that turned out to be totally false. And a lot of that was because of what goes on with Shaq’s ‘Shaqtin’ A Fool’ thing.”


Shaq responded to Durant Friday on Twitter, writing "@KDTrey5 mind yo business this ain't for you," and "@KDTrey5 I understand u sticking up for your teammate that's cool but your boy @JaValeMcGee34 is still a bum, he started it I'm a finish it."