Don Nelson, a legend in the annals of Mavs and NBA coaching history, is enjoying his life after basketball.
After a 31-year, Hall of Fame coaching career – in which he won an NBA record 1,335 games – he retired to Hawaii, where he’s run a real estate business for the last 20 years.
He was asked about his island life during a press conference before a Golden State Warriors game Thursday, and his response didn’t disappoint.
“I’ve been smoking some pot,” he said, garnering a roar of laughter from those in attendance, including former Warriors Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson. “I never smoked when I played or coached, so it’s new to me. I’m doing that and I’m having a pretty good time.
“It’s more legal now than it’s ever been, so I’m enjoying that.”
The 78-year-old told the New York Times last year that he picked up a marijuana habit three or four years earlier thanks to country music icon Willie Nelson – and that the two had created a special blend of pot.
“Oh, it’s great. Great stuff. It’s called Nellie Kush,” he said. “It’s O.G. and Hindu Kush. Hindu Kush is really good. It comes from India and the guy that brought it over mixed the two of them, so we’ve got Nellie Kush now.”
He told the paper he has a medical card that allows him to smoke and grow up to 10 plants on his farm in Maui. There’s “plenty to smoke,” he said.
Nelson coached the Mavericks for eight seasons, overseeing the period when the team drafted Dirk Nowitzki and moved to the American Airlines Center. “Nellie Ball” brought the Mavericks into regular playoff contention for the first time in a decade. He took the Mavs from a 16-win team in 1997-98 to a playoff team in each of his final five seasons (2000-05).
And, yes, he's rocking a different look these days than he did when he manned the sidelines.