Don Nelson is the godfather of the Golden State Warriors. The man who put the term “small ball” into the NBA’s lexicon had a long and glorious career before he even came to the team, but for most of us, he is (and always will be) inexorably linked to Nellie Ball.
When our team was absolute crap, Don Nelson was the main guy making it at least somewhat entertaining. Beyond his on court mastery, the guy was a legendary presence off the court as well.
Retired now, and living the dream in Hawaii, Nelson recently consented to a rare interview with Alex Williams of the New York Times. It is an extremely enjoyable window into his life now, as well as his perspective on current topics, from the Houston Rockets to medical marijuana.
Although he professes to not follow the current season very closely our old pal Nellie has some pretty astute takes on what it’s going to take to get all the way across the finish line:
I don’t like Houston, personally, but it’s just because of a lot of competition over the years — with Dallas, you know. I’m a Warrior guy, so I’m rooting for the Warriors, but Steph has got to be 100 percent to beat that team.
Nelson goes on to further discuss the team that he coached (no, he has not thawed much when it comes to Chris Webber), and admits that he was “fried” by the time his tenure ended. I wish there was a bit more on that, I know Nelson had a great career, but for a guy who was so fried, he seemed to genuinely enjoy that last team with Curry. And I think it was mutual.
I know it was a relatively rough patch, as far as our franchise goes, but I will never forget Nellie coaching Steph Curry and the D League All Stars on the night Nellie broke the NBA record for winningest coach.
On Maui life, and farming
I’ve been to Maui a few times with my family and have always wanted to run into Nellie. He’s island famous out there - I know he owns a few rental properties, grows his own coffee, and even owns a shaved ice stand. But from the interview with the Times, it sounds like he’s now expanded his farming empire to include the devil’s lettuce.
And you’ve got an agrarian venture over here in Maui, too?
I’ve got a farm, yeah, I do. We grow some pot and flowers and coffee, and I’ve got a fish farm up there.
I’ve got a medical card. I’m legal here. When any athlete gets old, every injury you have sustained seems to resurrect. It helps me deal with the pain without pain pills, and helps with that stress.
Have you been into cannabis for long?
No, I didn’t smoke until maybe three or four years ago. I never smoked when I was coaching. I just started. Willie got me smoking.
Now, I’m not saying that you should smoke pot. But, if you were going to start, getting shepherded into the scene by none other than Willie Nelson is pretty legit.
Seriously, go read that whole article. It’s amazing. And Mr. Nelson, if you are reading this, holler at me, I’ll be out in Maui next year.