Don Nelson is a former professional basketball player and coach in the National Basketball Association. As a player, he became an NBA Champion five times while playing for the Boston Celtics. As a coach, he was named the NBA Coach of the Year three times. He was also twice named the NBA All-Star Game Head Coach.

Player Profile and Personal Life

Donald Arvid Nelson was born on May 15, 1940, in Muskegon, Michigan in the United States of America. He stands 198 cm and his weight was last listed at 95 kg. He shot right-handed and he was a small forward.

He is married and has six children. His son Donnie Nelson was a general manager in the NBA as well. After he retired from playing in the NBA, he refereed basketball games and then started coaching.

Position Small Forward
Height / weight 1.98 m / 95 kg
Born 15 May 1940
Nationality United States United States
Playing Style Right Handed
Team History
26 boston celtics Boston 1965 - 1976
27 los angeles lakers Los Angeles 1963 - 1965
Chicago Zephyrs Chicago Zephyrs 1962 - 1963

High School and College Career

He attended Rock Island High School in Rock Island, Illinois. He later played for the University of Iowa and was there from 1959 to 1962.

In 1962, he was named to the Third-team, All-American – AP, NABC, and UPI.

Professional Career

He was drafted into the NBA in 1962 and was a third-round pick by the then-Chicago Zephyrs. He was with the Zephyrs from 1962 to 1963. From 1963 to 1965, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

He had his best performances as a player while with the Boston Celtics. He played for the team from 1965 to 1976. In that time, he helped the Celtics win the NBA Championship five times in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, and 1976.

When he retired, the Celtics also retired his jersey number in his honor.

He started coaching in 1976. Teams he’s coached for include the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and the Dallas Mavericks.

As a coach, Nelson was named the NBA Coach of the Year three times in 1983, 1985, and 1992. He was also twice named the NBA All-Star Game Head Coach in 1992 and 2002.

He has been included in the lists for the Top 10 Coaches in NBA History and the Top 15 Coaches in NBA History.

Career Highlights and Awards

As Player

  • 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976 - NBA champion
  • No. 19 retired by the Boston Celtics
  • 1962 - Third-team All-American – AP, NABC, UPI

As Coach

  • 1983, 1985, 1992 - NBA Coach of the Year
  • 1992, 2002 - NBA All-Star Game head coach
  • Top 10 Coaches in NBA History
  • Top 15 Coaches in NBA History

Career Playing Statistics

  • Points - 10,898 (10.3 ppg)
  • Rebounds - 5,192 (4.9 rpg)
  • Assists - 1,526 (1.4 apg)

Career Coaching Record

  • NBA - 1335–1063 (.557)

Medal Record

  • 1994 - FIBA World Championship Toronto, Men’s Basketball, Gold

Team History:

As Coach

  • 1976 - Milwaukee Bucks (assistant)
  • 1976–1988 - Milwaukee Bucks
  • 1988–1995 - Golden State Warriors
  • 1995–1996 - New York Knicks
  • 1997–2005 - Dallas Mavericks
  • 2006–2010 - Golden State Warriors

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