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Nellie is Winningest Coach Ever

The celebration wasn’t like the one I heard about in Toronto, which from all accounts was moving and emotional and spontaneous. Wednesday had some cool moments:

*His family and friends, some 20 people, including his wife joy and his daughter and grandkids, took pictures with each other on the court. They had several homemade signs.

*The standing ovation he got from the Timberwolves fans. As the game was winding down, departing fans walked by the bench to congratulate Nellie, even though the game was still going on. When the horn sounded, the PA guy made the announcement, and everyone stopped and applauded.

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*The locker room soda shower. They had Gatorade, the G2 bottles, but those don’t fizz like soda..

STEPHEN CURRY: “It was pretty fun. We had little Sierra Mist cans. We shook them up and sprayed them on him. The smile on his face. Gave him the game ball, he gave a little speech. It’s a great moment for him.”

ANTHONY TOLLIVER: “We didn’t have any champagne, so we improvised. He hasn’t had a championship yet, so we wanted to make this as special as possible. We thought he might be mad, but he is on Cloud 9 right now.”

NELSON: “I only bought one sport coat. I’ve got a problem.”

Nellie now has more wins than any coach in NBA history. He passed his coaching idol, Lenny Wilkens, despite having coached 93 fewer games. Afterward, Nelson was all smiles and visibly emotional. And after brushing it off for so long, he finally came clean about what it means to him.

NELLIE: “It’s just such a neat feeling. This is probably why we end up coaching, because of moments like this. The one in Toronto was so special because it was right at the buzzer. This one tonight, we had a lead and hung on, so it was a little different kind of game. But yet the excitement of the team, who were part of this, this historical moment, makes me awful proud of those guys. We had guys that played when they were sick. Tonight, Ronny was ill and probably shouldn’t have played. He found  away to make a contribution for us. And then, how about these D-League guys that we picked up? They all had great nights. It didn’t always run perfectly, but they were very competitive and they got the job done tonight. I told the team that I loved them dearly, that they were very special to me, but sometimes they don’t play like I want them to.”

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The closest active coach to Nelson is Jerry Sloan, who through Wednesday was 145 wins behind Nelson. Phil Jackson and Larry Brown are the only other active coaches within 300 victories of Nelson. So unless Phil or Sloan stick around another four or five seasons, or unless Pat Riley (1,210) comes out of retirementit, it appears Nelson’s record is safe for years to come. But he said he doesn’t mind if someone breaks it.

NELLIE: “There’s plenty guys close to that if they want to coach a couple years. There are guys out there winning 50 at a time, 60 at a time. They are not like me, winning 20 at a time. It’s a little harder.”

“Like I’ve been telling our guys, I have so much respect for the number now because wins are so hard to get. What, we’ve won 23 games this year? That’s what we’ve won? We fight, we scrap and normally we don’t win. So you really appreciate how hard it is to win games in the NBA. I don’t care if teams are out there winning 60 at a time. They are hard to win. I don’t care how many you win, they are hard.”

The players viewed getting Nelson the record as their crowning accomplishment in a lost season. Ronny Turiaf played Wednesday despite having the flu. He said he couldn’t breathe, he had no energy. On multiple occasions, you could hear him coughing up what sounded like a lung. Corey Maggette has been covered in nagging injuries, but refused to sit out. Curry played through a sore right shoulder though the safe thing to do would’ve been to take a game off. C.J. Watson said he wanted to play, but he could barely breathe and was in pain thanks to sore ribs.

They wanted badly to get Nellie this record. This season.

CURRY: “I don’t know when it happened, but there was a time where we saw how many games we had left and knew how many we had to win to get him the record. That was like our playoff push, basically. Something for us to hang our hat on the rest of the season.”

MAGGETTE: “To be be honest, Nellie has never said anything about the record. He just really wanted to come out there and coach and try to find a way to win some games with the people that we’ve got. When the game was over, he said let’s get in the middle, and he was excited and he told us he appreciated us doing that. That’s great to hear from him, such a prestigious coach.”

“I told guys after the game, we’ve got to thank Anthony Tolliver first for being hot in the first half. That really got us in the game. And Steph. Those guys kept us a live in the game and gave us an oppturnity to do this. We just kept fighting, kept fighting. … We found a way to try to get this win. We still have four games left. This was really important to try to get it. Because our next games are really tough games, playoff-contending teams except for the Clippers. So it was really good to get this win.”

“After the (Toronto) game, I called Monta. I told him. I talked to him. He wanted to be here. This guy is definitely a Warrior for this team. Just too bad he was really sick. I mean, he’s really sick. He was playing for two whole weeks sick. It was up to the doctors to make the decision that he had to sit down and rest his body and try to get well. I’m going to call him in a minute. I know he wanted to be here, as well as Azubuike, as well as Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright. We’ve got so many guys who are banged up and wish they could be in a situation to help this team and be a part of this.”

Inevitably, the talk of championships comes up, or Nelson’s lack thereof as a coach.He has a career .557 win percentage. He has three NBA Coach of the Year awards. He has 13 50-win seasons, 18 playoff appearances. He has been credited as an innovator, for his inverted offense and perimeter-player heavy lineups. He has five titles as a player.

But what Nelson doesn’t have is a ring as a coach, or even an NBA Finals appearance. His players said that shouldn’t matter with his resume.

Nelson’s record is 1,333-1,061 (.557), including 13 50-win seasons and 18 playoff appearances. One of only two to be named NBA Coach of the Year three times, Nelson is in his 31st season as a head coach, but detractors always mention the fact that he hasn’t won a championship.

MAGGETTE: “If I’m not mistaking, he does have five rings, don’t he? As a player. And now he’s the all-time winningest coach. You can’t knock the man’s accolades. It’s a situation where sometimes you don’t win as a coach. But damn, you’re the winningest coach in history without winning a title. That says a lot still. You’ve got to call him a Hall of Famer.”

Marcus Thompson

  • Scotty

    Glad those guys had something to celebrate this season. They scrapped all season long, no doubt about that. Would of been nice to see Monta involved in the celebration too though.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    CONGRATZ NELLIE!!
    An innovator of the game!!
    Nash, Nowitzki, etc. all those greats would be nowhere without him! too bad he’s coming back next year to screw our season over yet again

  • earl monroe

    quick call the Guinness book of World Records

  • Bleep

    Great writeup MT. I think some fans look at the record over the last two years and lose any sense of perspective. Except when they are awful, which is rare, the GSW have been fun to watch even with a decimated line up.

    I for one hope he is back for 1 more year. It would be interesting to see what he could do with this crew, given an additional high draft pick and some kind of interior defensive presence.

  • http://baysportsblood.wordpress.com baysportsblood.wordpress.com

    Surrounded by a bunch of D-Leaguers and one good rookie. NOBODY CARES. If you leave the bay area nobody on the national circuit can even say Morrow’s name correctly. NOBODY CARES.

  • lobo

    who gives a rats patoot…wake me up when fatso picks up his 6million, packs his bags and is on the first freighter out to maui….he is a conniving weasel who is smart enough to take advantage of the mentally challenged who bought into his bull…how many coaches can lose as many games (last year) and keep their jobs…whoever buys the team will clear all the crap out…and you will see west/pat riley/mullin/van gundy all surface….ellison (pray) knows he has to pay to get the talent he needs and hold them accountable…that’s the way he runs his show.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    plus one lobo…

  • Perry

    You know what just fuckin’ kills me?…….

    How better coaches of better teams have been ‘shown the door’ sooner than this fat Scandinavian:

    1. Byron Scott
    2. Mike Dunleavy, Sr. (although he essentially fired himself and took a front office job full-time)

    B. Scott’s offensive schemes can be very flexible, he keeps his teams in great shape (something he learned from Pat Riley in his “Showtime” days with the Lakers)……

    Remember New Jersey with Kidd, Jefferson, Kittles and Martin?……They got out on the break…..buuuuut,…..they also got their hats handed to them in 4 games by the Lakers…

    B. Scott has coached some good PG’s:

    1. J. Kidd
    2. B. Davis
    3. C. Paul

    Might as well add S. Curry to that list…….bring B. Scott to coach the Golden State Warriors…

    Mike Dunleavy, Sr. has coached great Laker teams before….he has a definitve offensive and defensive scheme and is a respectable basketball mind..

    I would take those 2 any day over your boy, D. Nelson…….

    The problem is that Nelson is more than a Coach…….he’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein (DeNiro) from “Casino”…….Larry Riley is the ‘squeaky clean’ front man, Alan Glick…..

    Nelson’s got the Warriors by the balls…..just like he did in his first tenure with this organization in the mid 90′s……….he wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Larry Riley is basically a mirage……nothing gets done in this organization without D. Nelson’s approval, …..I guarantee that…..

    Let him go! Fuck him!

    If you coach 3000 games, you best the fuck win at least half…….

    Nelson’s made his name on longevity….

    I mean, …….give me 3000 games and I TOO will be the ‘winningest Coach in NBA history”……….

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Great – he has the record and now can be bought out of next year’s contract by the new owner so he can’t continue to ruin our team. Now, what must galvanize the fan base in shifting our support behind Sacramento, Washington and Detroit, who all share the same record as we do. We must lose the rest of our games and have them each win at least one game. That will give us a much greater shot at the 1,2 or 3 pick in the draft.
    I would love to see Evan Turner and Steph Curry develop into one of the premier backcourts in the league.

  • Steve

    Oldies are definitely goodies, just like Don Nelson and this song. Congrats to Nelson on one helluva career in the NBA.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtcEz0JAjOI&feature=related

  • Scotty

    Perry, are you serious about Dumbleavy? You do realize that he was the clippers coach and Gm? Then they told him to step down as coach to just be the GM. A week later he got fired from the GM position. You’re totally right tho, he fired himself to take a front office position. Do you know where he was when he got fired? On the golf course, exactly where every GM of a lottery bound team should be towards the end of the season

  • Marques8

    Made his name on longevity? Isn’t that what they said about Hank Aaron? I guess he could have made his name coaching only championship caliber teams, like Phil. What Nellie did was build franchises, Milwaukee, Golden State and Dallas, and in two out of the three cases he left the franchise in much better place than he found one. I think he will leave this one the same way this time.

    One of these days, when guys swallow the blood and spit Nellie will be in the Hall of Fame. I just hope he’s alive when it happens. And oh yes, one of these TK will not win the Pulitzer Prize. It doesn’t matter how long he lives, even with all those “sources” he has. Sorry to scar your blog with TK, Marcus.

  • Perry

    Yeah “Scotty”, I DO realize he was the Clipper Coach/GM

    But before that, he was the Laker Coach and GM in the early 90′s after Pat Riley left and led them to the Finals where they eventually lost to Chicago.

    Mike Dunleavy, Sr. was the Coach of the Lakers when they beat the heavily favored Portland Trailblazers and Clyde Drexler in the Western Conference Finals in that 90-91 season…….buuuuuut, you already knew that, right?

    You forgot about that shit, though, “Scotty”…..didn’t you?

    Mike Dunleavy has coached Magic Johnson………

    I think Dunleavy is a better Coach than Don Nelson….

  • Perry

    Correction on my last post please……..Dunleavy was just the Coach of the Lakers not the GM..Jerry West was GM.

  • Luis

    thanks for this MT!

  • deano

    It’s not the record that is most important; rather it is the joy of the players after getting that record, and Nellie’s reaction to his players. This bit of feel-good is sorely needed to give GSW some positive closure to a dreadful season.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Response to all of this:

    Did you see the players’ faces after winning their 24th game of the season? It was fucking ridiculous. They were cheering and all! Does nobody give a damn about Stephen Curry’s winning mentality back at Davidson? Is anybody worried that his ‘emotional response’ to losing more than twice as many games as he ever did in college is going to have an impact on how he responds to challenges in the future? Don’t get me wrong, I’ts great our tweener Santa got this ‘award’ and has ‘accomplished’ so much during his time fucking over the Warriors, but is no one worried about how this affected Curry to lose 50 games and still smile?! Is nobody worried that Nellie insisting to take every star player through the Summer League is going to fuck up ALL OF THEIR HEADS? What is wrong with this man, in some ridiculous effort to screw over our star players in search of winning a game vs the timberwolves, which Curry called ‘the Warriors’ championship’, he is supposed to be honored for doing this? Forget Dunleavy, forget everyone. This man is mentally insane. Tiger Woods should be free to drill his clubs into any slut he wants, but messing up a franchise for this long, finally getting something good and then working to screw it over for personal accolades is, in Rick Barry’s words, ‘embarassing’ to this City and the restless support we’ve given that shithole of an organization.

  • Steve

    I realize it’s a complete waste of time responding to infintile posters such as Perry and Whacko, who evidently feel that swearing and vulgar language puts an exclamation point on their comments about basketball and the GSW. Bravo! If only my 4 yr old son knew as much as you two slugs he’d be ready for Kindergarten right now.

    Perry, I hope you can afford to buy an NBA team some day, hire Mike Dunleavy as coach, and then watch as confetti starts falling from the rafters of your arena. Confetti, or is that pieces of the roof falling on your respective heads? LOL

    Whacko, did it ever occur to your peanut-sized brain that Curry was smiling because (1) He’s learned that winning never comes easy in the NBA, and when you do taste victory, it’s a great feeling, and especially so during an injury-ravaged season that his team has suffered through and (2) because he and his teammates had worked so hard, and ultimately succeeded, in winning a game that meant so much to their coach and the history of the NBA? No, I guess those thoughts never crossed your mind. What a shock. This season will only make Curry hungrier for success and winning in the future.

    Nelson’s problem here with the Warriors during his coaching career has been his great talent for rescuing teams from the abyss, and making them relevant within the NBA. Once that happens all the know-nothings start appearing with all the answers. All the other coaches in GSW history were never good enough to fail in the long run and make tough long term decisions. Their failures were all quick and without much fanfare or controversy. Nelson sets the bar much higher in a hurry, which is great if you ultimately succeed (championships). If not, you become a loser to all the small-minded, who unfortunately outnumber most everyone else on these threads.

    Nellie will soon be gone, but never fear. The Perrys and Whackos of the world have all the answers. With that in mind, never did the movie “2012″ have greater meaning. LOL

  • some guy

    laughed out loud reading all these posts with fans overreacting to Nellie & the celebration; when all that really matters is whether they draft a great player (b/c they aren’t getting one via trade or FA).

    as much as the current roster sucks, you add a Lebron or a Dwight or a Timmay (in his hey day) or a KG (in his hey day) type player to this team and it’s an instant contender.

    that player probably doesn’t exist in this years draft, but getting a legitimate star player might be possible (which would probably put them in the fringe playoff team territory). realistically they are going to have to get another one in 2011 to have any hope of being a year in & year out playoff team.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Some guy:
    Of course we need to draft someone? Where have you been the last 3 months when we said the SAME thing over and over. We just need to hit on THIS draft. We have to consider that we technically hit on Randolph, we sure as hell hit on Curry, and we need to hit again. We need to. We can make the playoffs if we want.

  • Double R

    It’s a nice accomplishment, but ultimately will not mean anything. Nellie will only be remembered for the devastation he caused at every stop in his career. For the limited success, he’s managed to mishandle almost every aspect of his responsbility. He’s befriended and then fired coaches (George Karl), he’s aliented star players (Chris Weber, Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis), and poisoned front offices (Chris Mullin, Mark Cuban). I will admit that at times it’s been fun to watch and follow the Warriors but over the course of Nellie’s tenure the team has become a train-wreck that continues to jump the track at every turn.

  • TownLove

    Big Props to Nelly. I hope they keep him around. He actually makes basketball fun 2 watch

  • petaluman

    Marcus,
    Thanks for posting an even-handed account of the players reflecting in the aftermath of this historic event. As a Warriors fan, I’m ambivalent about the record itself, as Nelson coached on several other teams as well.

    On court, though, it appears these last 2 wins were the most emotional for the team since “We Believe”. Seeing the players’ joy, it was clear they took a lot of pride in being part of setting an all-time record. To do so must have seemed almost beyond imagining to this year’s call-ups.

    We’ve had a miserable season. We still have a lot of question marks about our young players, even when healthy. I’m glad at least some of them had an opportunity to experience winning meaningful games.

  • Perry

    I was pleased to read Monte Poole’s last article regarding the OKC Thunder turnaround and the comparison to the Golden State Warriors and their continuing struggles…..

    Usually, Monte Poole just picks a black athlete, then puts him on a pedestal and winds up writing an article with a bunch of big words but no content.

    Monte Poole is probably one of the biggest ‘pro-black, anti-white’ media people in the Bay Area.

    Anyway, all that aside……….I like the article.

    I feel the same way.

    Let me draw you some comparisons:

    Let’s go back to the 2007 “We Believe” playoff push. We went 16-5 down the stretch and needed a win against a bad Portland team on the last night of the regular season to clinch a playoff berth.

    That Portland team that we beat already had Brandon Roy. This was a team that had a worse record than the “We Believe” Golden State squad.

    Now, Portland, at full strength, is one of the tougher teams in the Western Conference due to diligent ownership, drafting and vision while the Golden State Warriors are the laughing stock of the league.

    Next, lets look at the 2006-2007 Boston Celtics, a year before KG and Ray Allen and what seemed to be Doc Rivers’ and Danny Ainge’s curtain call in the league.

    Both Ainge and Rivers were left holding their nutsacks with 60 losses following that 2006-2007 season; while the Warriors were beating Dallas in the first round.

    That 2006-2007 Boston Celtics team was herrendous………they were worse than the current Warriors. ‘Doc’ Rivers was on the verge of losing his medical degree………

    The very next season, Boston wins the title.

    Next example, the Lakers.

    The “We Believe” playoff team had the exact same record as the Lakers that season. The Lakers lost to Phoenix in the 1st round while Golden State moved to the 2nd round in 2007.

    The Warriors and Lakers of 2006-2007 were about equal, believe it or not. Go back and look at the records and the tape.

    Remember this, that before the Lakers acquired Gasol, they were a good team, but certainly nowhere near a great team or a Championship contender.

    My point being, that every single team in this league, good or bad, seems to have a direction and purpose while we’re still struggling with 60 losses and the lottery.

    It only takes 1 player in many cases: KG, Ray Allen, Pau Gasol…..what 3 players have had a bigger impact on their perspective new teams over the past 5 years moreso than those guys?

  • deano

    Perry: Thanks for the history. You make good points about recent turnarounds. The Blazers benefited from several years of losing records, luck in the lottery and high draft picks that were wisely used. The Lakers and Celtics got their Championships after they used marquee players aleady on the roster (Kobe; Pierce and Allen) to attract that one additional star that put them over the top (Gasol; KG).

    Maybe the Warriors can draft as well this year as they did last. Maybe Curry is enough of a marquee player to attract an All-Star free agent. The Celtics used Al Jefferson to get KG. Maybe GSW can use Ellis, or Biedrins, or Maggette, and/or its draft pick to get an All-Star low post player (Jefferson, again?). Maybe, maybe, maybe.