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.''

Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies


Gameday: Curry out for payback against Conley, new-look Grizzlies

When the Warriors set foot in FedEx Forum on Saturday, they’ll find a very different atmosphere as well as a barely recognizable team of Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grindhouse is not the same. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter have left the building. So, too, has the “Grindfather” himself, Tony Allen.

So in their only trip to Memphis this season, the Warriors will focus mostly on point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, the remaining core members of the team that reached the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons.

The Warriors (1-1) will be playing for the second night in a row, while the Grizzlies (1-0) have not played since their season opener Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.

Warriors by 8.5

Stephen Curry vs. Mike Conley: Curry has a long memory, and he will remember not only that the Warriors last season lost twice to the Grizzlies but also that Conley’s 27 points and clutch play offset Curry’s 40 points and led Memphis to an overtime win in Oakland. It won’t matter to Curry that the Warriors posted double-digit wins over the Grizzlies in the last two meetings last season. He may want to take over.

Warriors: F Omri Casspi (L ankle sprain) has been ruled out.

Grizzlies: F JaMychal Green (L ankle sprain), G Ben McLemore (R foot surgery) and G/F Wayne Selden Jr. (R quad injury) are listed as out.

The Warriors have won five of the last seven in Memphis and 10 of the last 13 meetings overall.

BREEZE OR WHEEZE: Coach Steve Kerr has expressed some concern about the team’s conditioning level. On the second night of their first back-to-back set -- with the Warriors arriving at the hotel at 2:30 a.m. -- it could provide a glimpse of their progress. Kerr said he would consider resting one or two players. Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, both coming off injuries, would seem logical candidates.

GEORGIA VS. SPAIN: The Republic of Georgia’s Zaza Pachulia and Spain’s Marc Gasol know each other well, having spent years battling internationally and in the NBA. There will be no surprises, but Pachulia will have to avoid foul trouble to remain a part of his team’s defensive rotation against one of the league’s best big men.

HOT KLAY: Klay Thompson is off to a torrid start, shooting 11-of-18 from beyond the arc through the first two games. And now he won’t have to worry about Allen, who relished in opportunities to defend the Warriors All-Star. Memphis replaced Allen with Andrew Harrison, who is not in the Grindfather’s class as a defender.

Klay Thompson makes pledge to North Bay fire relief efforts


Klay Thompson makes pledge to North Bay fire relief efforts

Klay Thompson is putting his money where his mouth is.

[POOLE: Unprompted remarks about wildfires show Klay isn't who you thought he was]

Shortly before Noon PT on Friday, Klay posted a 30-second video to Twitter to let it be known that he is donating to the North Bay fire relief.

"Hey everyone. As we all know, Northern California has been tragically effected by these wildfires for the past few weeks. 

And I will be pledging $1,000 per point I score for the next three home games. And you can donate as well by clicking on the link below.

We will be donating to the Redwood Credit Union's fire relief efforts. Let's stick together because a lot of loved ones and families have been displaced and lost from these terrible events.

Property has been damanged but we can build this thing back up if we stick together and donate.

Thank you for listening."

The Warriors' next three home games are:

1) October 25 vs Toronto (18.7 points over 11 career games)
2) October 27 vs Washington (18.4 points over 11 career games)
3) October 29 vs Detroit (18.2 points over 11 career games)

Hopefully the Warriors will be able to create a lot of good looks for Klay during that stretch...

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