The nickname Nellie/Nelly must be synonymous with success. Don `Nellie' Nelson has had a storied and decorated NBA career as a player and a coach--the second winningest coach in NBA history. Nelly, so far, has had nothing short of a superstar rap career--releasing 3 (4 if you count both records of the "Sweat/suit" album) records and a remix album--collectively selling close to 16x platinum all over the world (Country Grammar reportedly went 9x platinum alone) and making girls `get their eagle on' every weekend for the last 6-7 years.
However, their lives intersect more so than the way that their nicknames sound. Although both have revolutionized their `jobs' (Nelson perfecting `small ball' and inventing the `point forward' whereas Nelly disrupted the hegemony of the eastcoast and westcoast binary of rap music culture), both are also remembered for their missteps. This short list documents some of the Nellie/Nelly moments I remember the most. This is by no means a comprehensive list of both Nellie and Nelly; feel free to share your favorite Nellie/Nelly moments!
NELLIE: The HITS (some of this best moves)
A long and forgotten fierce scoring point guard that looked to be the second coming of Isaiah Thomas (my favorite player of all time). In polls of greatest point guards ever or in recent memory, Tim Bug rarely gets mentioned despite being a former Dream Teamer and having the most popular (killer) cross-over in the past two decades that had fools trippin' like jealous girlfriends or boyfriends (you know how bad that is). Rather, in the current state of basketball, great outlet passes ala Robert Horry and Mike Dunleavy Jr, are considered hall-of-fame worthy by the likes of Bill Walton and Jim Barnett. Tim Bug deserves more props as does Nelly's "E.I." This popular follow up always stands in the shadows of the lead single "Country Grammar." This track is bangin'!
1998 Draft, Selecting Michigan forward Robert Traylor with the No. 6 pick, later traded his rights to Milwaukee in exchange for the rights to the Bucks' two first-round picks, Germany's Dirk Nowitzki (No. 9) and Notre Dame's Pat Garrity (No. 19). THEN, promptly trading Garrity's draft rights to Phoenix -- along with Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 first-round pick that would eventually become Shawn Marion -- for third-year guard Steve Nash. Ironically, Marion and Nash are now teammates.
Nelly equivalent: "Hot in Herre" and "Girlfriend" N'Sync feat. Nelly
Nellie knows talent, but this is almost ridiculous; we should call him the alchemist cuz he turns things into gold! Whatever it is, P.Ditty could learn a thing or two about developing talent from Nellie. This combo of draft day steals is like Nelly's club ready "Hot in Herrre" and his featured role on N'Sync's "Girlfriend" (remix), respectively. The Neptunes produced "Hot in Herree" was recognizably a sure-fire club banger upon an initial listen--Nowitzki no doubt. Nash, on the other hand, was the pop sensation that was "Girlfriend." Nash's slow rise to stardom is similar to Nelly's surprise if not antithetical cross-over into the uber pop realm. Yet, Nelly's role in "Girlfriend" just merely affirmed his come-up was legitimate.
Nelly's Equivalent: Air Force 1s
Talk about mentorship. Avery Johnson not only to be the general at Golden State under Nelson, but was also his apprentice in Dallas on the sidelines, taking them to the NBA finals and becoming coach of the year in his first full season as head coach. The same legendary genealogy could be seen in Nelly's Air Force 1s, where his reference to shoes was said to modernized rendition of Run DMC's "My Adidas." "AF1s" is undeniably paying homage to the legends. I feel comfortable saying that Johnson is a pair of Acorn Air Force 1s (retail price: $150)
1992 Draft, selecting Latrell Sprewell with the 24th pick
Nelly Equivalent: Shake Ya Tailfeather
Everyone knows about this one. How many one-handed shooting guards taken at the 24th pick turn into All-NBA teamers? Some say that he's overrated and that his production dropped significantly after leaving Golden State. But really, this is really just a testament to Nellie's scouting skills. Nowadays, anything after the #9 pick is probably a bust. "Shake Ya Tailfeather" turned out to be a monster hit, more so than it should have since it was on the Bad Boys II soundtrack. Nelly turned a somewhat staid beat and collabo with Ditty into a summer anthem. Like Nellie, Nelly makes something outta nothing.
NELLIE: THE MISSES
Rod Higgins 6'8 Center
Nelly equivalent: Flap Your Wings
Nelly seems to love these bird references and Nelson loves small forwards masquerading as centers. The creativity of the Afro-Carribbean drum inspired "Flap Your Wings" and Nelson's super small ball didn't always translate into sure fire hits. The butt reference of "get(ting) your eagle on girl" , was about as redundant as three small forwards filling the 3-5 spots on the floor.
Nelly Equivalent: Dilemma feat. Kelly Rowland
WTF. The breaking up of one of the most marketable "Big 3"s ever was as big a blunder as Nelly's attempt at crooning. Though Nelly is far from "hard" and took shots from hip-hop's forefathers for being `un-real', THIS track demonstrated how he deserved the criticsm from the legends. At least hook up with Beyonce, right? I guess that just wasn't in the budget. Nellie says he regrets the trade to this day. Let hope Nelly feels that way about `Dilemma.'
Asking Webber to play center
Nelly Equivalent: Over and Over feat. Tim McGraw
Everyone knows Webber couldn't get along with Nellie and vice versa. For some reason, that break up seemed to curse the Warriors for the next dozen years. Webber was never a 5, but like a really agile 4... or a really robotic Magic Johnson. This duo worked about as good as Nelly's collabo with Tim McGraw, which looked like the second coming of "Dilemma" at best. Although the song was a success, this song has made several VH1 awesomely bad song/video countdown lists and still surprises me considering an industry that is so paranoid and obsessed with street cred for its marketability.
Nine-player deal, the Dallas Mavericks traded point guards Nick Van Exel and Avery Johnson, guard Antoine Rigedeau, forward Popeye Jones and centre Evan Eschmeyer to Golden State for guard Jiri Welsch and forwards Antawn Jamison, Chris Mills and Danny Fortson. (Antawn Jamison later became Stackhouse... a nice bench dude, at best).
Earlier in the decade, the Dallas Mavericks made another major trade Monday night, this one a nine-player deal that sent Jim Jackson and All-Star Chris Gatling to the New Jersey Nets for center Shawn Bradley.
Nelly Equivalent: St. Lunatics
These blockbuster deals have seemed more like the dollar theater in terms of returns. These huge posse cut trades have seemed as irrelevant as Nelly's clique from the `Lou'. Why is it that the front man's posse always has to be goofy or comic relief (ala D12)? Anyway pt. being, these dudes slated to be solid supporting players to their respective teams superstars have often become posterized or have disappeared completely from the NBA.
With the new Nellie era upon us, is it safe to call the Oakland Coliseum, "Nellieville"??? Could this be the biggest NBA/hip-hop marketing scheme since Run DMC performed at the Coliseum; could Nelly rapping about Nellie and the Warriors be bigger than Usher buying up part of the Cavs or Jay-Z's part ownership in the Nets? Also, who do you think it's a bigger hit, Nellie or Nelly?