Former Hawkeye Don Nelson to be inducted into Hall of Fame

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Former Iowa basketball player and three-time NBA Coach of the Year Don Nelson was selected to join the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

Nelson played for the Hawkeyes from 1959-62 and left the team as Iowa's all-time leading scorer with 1,522 points (his record stood until 1980, when Ronnie Lester broke it; he currently sits in 11th place). The Illinois all-stater from Rock Island was named the Hawks' MVP in each of the three years in which he played, and he led the Hawkeyes in points, rebounds, and field-goal percentage in his last two seasons.

He was drafted by the NBA's Chicago Zephyrs in 1962, and he spent 14 years in the league with Chicago (1962-63), the Los Angeles Lakers (1963-65), and the Boston Celtics (1965-76). He was a part of five Celtic championship teams, and Boston retired his No. 19 jersey in 1978.

Nelson made his biggest impact on the game as a coach; his 1,335 wins over 31 seasons rank first in league history.

He coached the Milwaukee Bucks for 11 seasons (1976-87), nine of which were winning campaigns, before joining the Golden State Warriors in 1988. He took the Warriors to the playoffs four times in his seven-year tenure. He spent part of a season with the Knicks before taking over the Dallas Mavericks, a team he led to four playoff appearances between 1997-2005. He finished his coaching career with a second stint with the Warriors.

Nelson also led the second incarnation of the Dream Team — which featured such players as Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, and Dominique Wilkins — to the gold medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championship.

Nelson and the rest of the 2012 Naismith class will be inducted on Sept. 7.

— by Seth Roberts

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