OAKLAND -- Don Nelson is back in the Bay Area this week inadvance of his induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame on Sept. 7. On Tuesday,Nelson met with a group of writers over lunch, and later in the day he taped anhour-long segment for Chronicle Live, which will air next Thursday the daybefore his induction.Nelson, 72, who had two stints coaching the Warriors, is theNBAs all-time winningest coach. He said a lot of good stuff in the course ofthe day. Here are some things that caught my ear:On never winning an NBA championship as acoach:Nelson: Part of that was my own doing. I had anopportunity when I was with the Milwaukee Bucks -- after we swept the Celtics(1983). After that last game, (Boston president Red) Auerbach we were walkingin the arena together and he said: Would you ever think about coaching theCeltics? As a career move, I should have jumped all over it.I was on a handshake, a year-to-year handshake, with (Warriorsco-owner) Jim Fitzgerald. I just said I couldnt do it because Jim Fitzgeraldwas just so good to me. They won how many championships after that?But I stayed and coached. But it was void of championships.So part of it was my own doing. The other part was I enjoyed taking over badteams and making good ones out of them. I enjoyed building something thatwasnt very attractive and making it attractive . You get a lot of losses doingthat, but I enjoyed it.On where the idea of small-ball camefrom:Nelson: It all happened in the Celtic practices.What Auerbach would do when it got to midseason and practices were drudgery,was he would play big guys against the small guys and the smalls would alwayswin. You put Bill Russell on the other team and everybody else big, and put thesmalls on the other and it wasnt a close game as long as it was a full-courtgame. Now half-court you couldnt do that. But full-court, the smalls alwayswon, so Im sure that was the start of it.I could never understand why small players could neverrebound and big players couldnt dribble. They can. They just dont do it. Butin practice big guys can dribble and do a lot of things. Guys like MagicJohnson proved that 6-8 point guard that it could happen if they believethey can do it. So I always asked my small guys to be rebounders and my bigguys to handle the ball and dribble and get into the open court and feelcomfortable there.I think it all started from those practices. Of course, itdidnt hurt that we had John Havlicek on our side in small ball. But the bigguys couldnt get the ball up the court. It was always like 10-2 small guysalways won.On changing his style of coaching in the1980s:Nelson: I was verbally abusive to my players onthe floor too much. You can do that in private and at halftime. You have to dothat as a coach, the discipline and stuff like that. But I was verbally tooabrasive on the floor, I thought. And I had to change that be more like LennyWilkens, a coach I really respected. And I thought I was. I thought that was agood move.More on that style change: Nelson: I thought a positive change in mycoaching career was when I was coaching (former Warrior) Sarunas (Marciulionis)and I was so hard on him because he kept making the same mistake over and overand over.I just didnt allow my players to make the same mistakeover and over and over, and he was so used to playing a certain way, and he wasso gifted physically that he could do all these things. But he couldnt do thatin the NBA.When he kept doing it, I kept getting on him harder andharder and I kind of saw myself watching film what I was turning into. I decidedit would be a good idea to stop doing that and have a different approach. And Istarted to not be as hard on my players. Even though they were fine with it Sarunas wasnt, of course, I was too hard on him. But as long as you werewinning and everything was that good way, they accepted it whatever the coachwas.Bobby Knights players loved him. They still do. But Ithought it was good I made a change at that point.
When the Warriors announced the severity of Kevin Durant's knee injury, they did not rule out a return before the end of the regular season.
And based on the progress of his rehab, the team is "hopeful" but "cautiously optimistic" that Durant will indeed play before the end of the regular season, according to ESPN.
The Warriors have 11 games remaining on their schedule and their final regular season game is April 12 against the Lakers.
On Tuesday, prior to the Warriors game against Dallas, Durant was seen working out on the court and putting up jump shots.
Just a day earlier, Durant worked up a good sweat while riding a stationary bike in Oklahoma City.
Durant is expected to be re-evaluated by the Warriors' medical staff next week.
After initially struggling without Durant, the Warriors have won five straight games. Durant sat on the bench for the road wins in Oklahoma City and Dallas.
Over the weekend, Warriors PG Stephen Curry and PF Draymond Green addressed Durant's recovery.
“You can tell he’s making improvements and following the game plan,” Curry told the media. “I see him in the weight room doing cardio stuff trying to stay as close to game shape as he can while he’s hurt. You like to see improvements every day. We still don’t know when he’ll be back.”
“When he’s ready, we’ll know,” Green told the media. “But it’s not really our job to try to figure out every day how he’s doing. You can kind of see he’s getting better and you just leave it at that.”
SAN FRANCISCO -- He is among the greatest basketball coaches ever to walk a sideline. Creative and abrasive, accomplished yet unfulfilled, all wrapped in a 6-foot-7 package of Svengali.
Some say Don Nelson, who served two stints coaching the Warriors, was brutally honest, others insist needlessly cruel. There is little dispute, though, that “Nellie” could be as subjective as the sun is hot.
If you were one of “his guys,” you could do little wrong.
If you weren’t, you knew it early and you heard it often -- as former Warriors center Adonal Foyle, who was on the roster for 10 seasons, discovered in 2006.
“Don Nelson told me the first day he showed up at the gym: ‘You suck. You’ll never play for me. You make too much money.’ That was it,“ Foyle recalled Tuesday on the Warriors Insider Podcast.
“And he was having a cigar when he did it.”
Foyle, who returned to the Warriors in 2014 to serves as a Community Ambassador, clearly enjoyed his time with the “We Believe” Warriors, despite and because of the presence of Nelson. Foyle quickly learned about the two sides of Nellie.
Nelson had favorites. There was, in his first stint coaching the Warriors, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway, to name two. In his second stint, there was Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson.
Yet the list of those who could not seem to escape Nelson’s doghouse may have been longer, including the likes of Terry Teagle, Tyrone Hill, Sarunas Marciulionis and, later, Al Harrington, Ike Diogu, Marco Belinelli. Nelson’s most famous object of disgust was, of course, Chris Webber.
Foyle, who logged 1,824 minutes before Nelson’s arrival in 2006, played only 475 minutes in 2006-07.
“I knew I wasn’t going to play, because he made it clear,” Foyle recalled. “So I could be pissed off. I could be angry.
“I’m just going to be there. I’m just going to do my job the best way I could for that year. And I’m just going to learn. And I’m just going to help our where I can. I’ll help my teammates out. I’ll do the job that I’m paid to do.”
Foyle, the team’s all-time leader in blocked shots (1,140), scored a total of 107 points that season. His 50 blocks ranked third on the team. His ratio of blocks, one every 9.5 minutes, led the team.
The Warriors staged a furious rally to close the season, ending a 13-year postseason drought by gaining the No. 8 seed. They pulled off an epic upset, stunning top-seeded Dallas in the first round.
The Utah Jazz in the second round eliminated the Warriors in five games, the last played on May 15.
Ninety days later, Nelson and the Warriors bought out Foyle’s contract. He spent his final two seasons in Orlando and Memphis.