Golden State Warriors' Don Nelson: 70 Year Old Failure Who Can't Be Fired

M.T. KarthikContributor INovember 18, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 30:  Head coach Don Nelson of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the Memphis Grizzlies during an NBA game on March 30, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Caveat: for the purposes of the piece, success is coaching to an NBA title.  Failure, is not.

Man, I love a good, cold, draft beer and hanging out at the pub. And for 20 years, I've really liked Don Nelson because he has always seemed to me like a decent guy.

Chilling in Maui in the offseason, barking at the refs from the sidelines during the season. Then the photos of him in local papers in Oakland and Dallas, frumpy, baseball cap, drinking a beer. A regular guy with great knowledge of one of my favorite games.

Don Nelson is an easy guy to like.

But, as the turmoil in the Bay Area descends into rumour, innuendo, and the exact physical strength of Raja Bell's wrist—does it need metal pins or not? Was ownership confident surgery can come off without the pins? 

Don Nelson stands alone in a glaring spotlight. He has failed and is exposed.

In the last few days a special kind of rage has been reserved for Don Nelson. People will say they hate him, but often stop short of saying really why. We have been obliged to care for him. In fact, you like Don Nelson—and that's why it's so hard to say you hate him, because he's a loser.

And now, because of ownership's commitment to a decent, human attitude toward an employee in his last year who has given a lot to the organization, we have to cringe and watch as the Warriors struggle mightily to get Nelson his 24 wins.

Anybody who knows the history of labor in this country finds Steph Jack a little easier to understand.

Warriors fans now have to figure out how to swallow their desire for a real, competitive team and somehow turn their love of the team into love for the team's real objective—making Don Nelson the winningest coach in NBA History.

While this is depressing, there's light in it. The team is filled with young, athletic talent that's exciting to watch. They are capable of remarkable play. The rookie is for real.

And, actually, Don Nelson is capable of coaching this team to wins and, now exposed and sort of pathetic, he has actually shown compromise, unlike the Don Nelson of recent past.  Starting a rookie at point guard? Working rotation on D? I'd say Curry's basketball IQ is already having an intangible effect of considerable scale.

So, Nelson? He does know the game. Maybe with a little late career luck to counter the horrible luck the Warriors have had this week—Azubuike's injury is the real killer—this team could still be fun to watch.  You just have to let yourself get behind Nelson's goal to do it.

Don, I hate to tell you, but a whole lot of people wish you'd just step down.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.