As everyone in the area knows, Don Nelson is an original. Players love playing for him and Nellie never has forgotten what it was like to be a player. Nor has he forgotten that despite the millions and millions of dollars players make, it's still a game.
The latest example was at the Golden State practice today. The players lined up after practice to compete in half court shooting. Stephen Jackson was the first to swish a shot for the first team and then former Maverick DJ Mbenga, whose range is dunk-to-two feet, shocked everyone by making a half court shot for the reserves. No one was more shocked than Mbenga, who raced down the court screaming with one finger held in the air.
Then Nellie came back on the floor after a TV interview and announced a shooting game from midcourt. If a player made the shot, he got nothing. If he missed it, he owed Nelson $100.
Two players, including Jackson, attempted shots and both missed.
"When we get back to the hotel," Nelson said, "I want $100 in cash from both of you."
Nellie then announced he was going to spend the money on fine cigars.
"These guys have so much money they don't know what to do with it," Nelson said, smiling at his own cleverness.
Jackson laughed about the contest.
"He's taken money from me all year long," Jackson said. "I've probably given you $400 this year because when he says the next person who shoots misses owes $100, I always shoot just to mess with him."
And Nellie likes that.
-- Jan Hubbard