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As he enters Hall of Fame, Don Nelson again says he’s done coaching

Don Nelson

Former Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson smokes a cigar while talking on the phone outside of the Warriors NBA training facility in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Nelson always did things his way, and it hardly mattered who objected to his coaching techniques. He is the NBA’s winningest coach ever because of it, and, now, a Hall of Famer. And, don’t forget, he’s the one who could regularly be seen smoking a cigar in the parking lot before games. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


Don Nelson is deservingly going into the Hall of Fame as a coach this week — he has won more games than any NBA coach ever, he was the innovator of small ball.

But at every stop he seems to be asked, “are you coming back?” He did have some conversations with the Minnesota Timberwolves last summer, so maybe…

No. Not happening. Nelson is done coaching in the NBA, Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reminds us. And he reminds us that Nelson retired to Maui for a life most of us dream about.

So no, the play-caller who was 1,335-1,063 in 31 seasons with Milwaukee, Golden State, New York and Dallas won’t be leaving his life of poker games, shaved ice stands, coffee and olive trees, and beachfront property in order to chase yet another coaching opening. He did agree to leave the islands for Friday’s induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, though, and he’ll do so as a man who appreciates the invite and is at peace with his legacy….

“I’m having so much fun not coaching in a life that I didn’t know about, doing all these interesting things,” Nelson said. “I didn’t know that I was going to have so much fun not coaching. There is life after basketball. I didn’t know that. I know it now. And I would not go back.”

Is that clear enough for you?

Some owner is going to reach out to Nelson next summer when he is looking for a new coach. It’s inevitable. But the part of Nelson that entertained those calls and ideas is distracted by the Maui sunsets now.