Don Nelson, better known as “Nellie” played for the Boston Celtics from 1965 – 1976 and would be a model player through the years where he was highly regarded as one of the best “sixth men” to play the game. He later went on to have an excellent career as a coach where he received numerous accolades and notes as one of the Top Coaches in NBA history.
Don Nelson was drafted from the University of Iowa, where he had numerous battles with future teammate John Havlicek from Ohio State University. He was drafted to the then Chicago Zephyrs but his most successful seasons came as a member of the Boston Celtics where he was a 5-time NBA Champion, the highlight being his foul line jump shot that bounced around the rim before finally going in and leading the Celtics to the championship over his former Laker team. He was known for his unorthodox free throw shooting where he shot the ball using one hand and off one leg in a sort of “hop” shot; despite the technique he maintained a career 76.5% from the line after upon his retirement his number 19 was retired by the Celtics.
After playing for arguably the best coach ever in Red Auerbach and playing with future Hall of Famers such as Bill Russell and John Havlicek, Don Nelson applied this knowledge to coaching from his retirement as a player in 1976 – 2010. During his tenure as coach for five NBA teams Don was known for his innovative tactics, on offense he believed in the concept of playing with a small lineup and sacrificing defense to make his team a better scoring team. He also introduced the league to the “Hack-a-Shaq” technique that was used to try and contain the league most dominant force at the time, Shaquille O’Neil who was a know poor free throw shooter. This was used by other teams against O’Neil and is a staple in any coaches’ playbook versus a dominant center. After coaching his last NBA team, he has won the NBA Coach of the Year award three times and coached the NBA All-Star Game twice. Don was the third coach to win 1,000 games in NBA history and later went on to pass Lenny Wilkens as the NBA all-time winningest coach.
Take a look at “Nellie’s” free throw technique