IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former University of Iowa men’s basketball player, NBA world champion and all-time winningest coach Don Nelson will hold a press conference Saturday in Iowa City. The press conference will be held in the practice gym of the Howard Family Pavilion on the second floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena following the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Commencement at approximately 11:45 a.m. The graduation ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Nelson, who left the University of Iowa in 1962 just 10 credits short of getting his degree, is returning to Iowa City this weekend to receive his bachelor’s degree in physical education. Through the years, Nelson fulfilled course credits by taking correspondence courses; the UI determined that his 35 years of coaching fulfilled the student teaching requirement for graduation.
Nelson will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year on Sept. 7. It’s the ultimate achievement for a basketball player/coach in America. He was named NBA Coach of the Year three times and was a member of five NBA Championships as a player. He collected 1,335 NBA wins in 31 seasons on the sidelines.
Nelson scored 1,522 points from 1959-62 as a Hawkeye. He ranks 11th on Iowa’s all-time scoring chart. During his final two seasons, Nelson led the Hawkeyes in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and free throw percentage.
Nelson was a two-time All-American at the UI and was drafted by the Chicago Zephyrs with the first pick of the third round in the 1962 NBA Draft. He also played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. It was with the Celtics where Nelson was part of five NBA champion teams: 1966, ’68, ’69, ’74 and ’76. His No. 19 jersey was retired by Boston in 1978 (Nelson wore No. 15 with the Hawkeyes).
Nelson’s first head coaching job in the NBA was with Milwaukee in 1976. He coached there for 11 seasons (nine winning seasons, 43 playoff victories) before joining Golden State for the 1988-89 season. The Warriors made the playoffs four times from 1989-94. Nelson coached one season with the New York Knicks. From 1997-2005 Nelson was head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. He began his second shift with Golden State in 2006.