Don Nelson

Enshrined 2012
Muskegon, MI
Born: May 15, 1940


Don Nelson has spent a lifetime in basketball. Player, coach, general manger, and consultant, his more than forty years in the game were punctuated by excellence and innovation. Nelson is the only coach to record more than 1,000 wins and earn multiple championships as a player. Through his years of serving the basketball community he has been involved in more NBA games than any other individual in history. Nelson is the all-time winningest coach in the NBA with 1,335 victories. He was the innovator and greatest proponent of small-ball offense – now known in basketball circles as “Nellie Ball” – and he introduced the concept of the point-forward to basketball. Nelson invented matchup-situation offenses on the fly, giving opposing coaches headaches every night. Named to the NBA’s Ten Best Coaches of All Time list in 1996, Nelson was a three-time Coach of the Year honoree. He then coached the United States national team to a gold medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championships.

Career Highlights

Three-time NBA Coach of the Year, 1983, 1985, 1992
Named one of the Ten Greatest Coaches in NBA History, 1996
Led teams to 18 appearances in the postseason
Led Milwaukee Bucks to seven consecutive division championships