Time to play a little game of “what if?”
Retired NBA coach Don Nelson who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight had a long and successful playing and coaching career. He’s the winningest NBA coach of all time, and believe it or not, if a few things had gone a different way, he could have found himself coaching in San Antonio.
“I couldn't have left [Former Warriors owner Jim Fitzgerald and the Warriors], but it was clear that it wasn't going to work out with [Chris] Webber and I,” Said Nelson. “So I begged [Fitzgerald] to keep Chris and let me go. [Gregg] Popovich was holding the [San Antonio] job open for me. All I had to do is make sure I was free. I knew I was going to get fired in Golden State, that's the way things were looking, but they wouldn't let me go. And then they fired me four months later.”
“They were also selling the team right around that time, so there were issues. I don't know exactly how much influence that had, but I should have been the guy that left. Keep the star player, get a new guy in that does a better job of handling him and let me move on. I'd have gone to San Antonio and I'd probably still be coaching today.”
Can you imagine? Only people with special DeLoreans could possibly know what that would have meant for the Spurs. Of course, I doubt any rational Spurs fan would trade the success the team has had with Coach Pop to say, “what could have been?” with Don Nelson, but it’s still pretty crazy to think about.
And since Pop was the Spurs’ General Manager at that time, they would have made one hell of a one-two punch.
“Pop would have been my GM,” said Nelson laughing. “What fun we would've had.”
It probably would have been the best combo in all the NBA, and would have made the Spurs a lot more fun to watch. But again, this is what could have happened, not what did. It’s just fun to imagine.