After 1,335 wins as a head coach, more than anyone in NBA history, Don Nelson has finally been elected to the the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great honor to cap my career,” Nelson told Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas. “I’ve had a great time and a great life coaching basketball. I don’t actually need to be rewarded for anything, but I am very proud, and my family is very proud of this award.”
Nelson coached for 31 seasons in the NBA, split among the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks. He returned to Golden State for a second stint before team and coach parted ways in 2010.
Nelson won more games than anyone else — passing Lenny Wilkens for first place on the all-time list on April 7, 2010 — plus three Coach of the Year awards, but the one knock on him was he never won a championship. With the induction of the also-ringless Utah Jazz legend Jerry Sloan in 2009, though, the road was paved for Nelson to sneak in this year.
The longtime coach was one of 12 finalists for the class of 2012, along with Reggie Miller, Rick Pitino, Bill Fitch and Katrina McClain.