I know the Mavericks have generally sucked during their 26 years. Never played in the NBA Finals or had a Most Valuable Player. But it wasn't because of the coaching. The fact that Monday's Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees didn't include former Mavericks coach Don Nelson is inexplicable. Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins were great players, but, like Nelson, their careers were highlighted by impressive stats backed by zero titles. And, by the way, who the hell is Italian coach Sandro Gamba? You mean to tell me he's had more of an impact on the game of basketball than Don Nelson? Gimme a friggin' break.
Nellie is the NBA's second all-time winningest coach. He's one of only two coaches, along with Pat Riley, to be named Coach of the Year three times. As a coach, he was a visionary innovator. As a player, he won five championships in Boston and had his No. 19 retired aloft the most hallowed roof in hoops. As if that weren't enough, he got primo seats at this year's Oscars.
You'd shrug off his omission as an oversight, if the same blackballing weren't happening to former Mavs coach Dick Motta. Also not in the Hall, Motta, who coached the Mavs their first 16 years, won 1,000 games and a championship with the Washington Bullets. I ask you, Mr. In Denial Hall Voter, if not those two, then who? Right now it looks like the first Maverick in the Hall of Fame might just be Dirk Nowitzki, who, of course, was discovered, drafted and developed by a guy named Don Nelson. --Richie Whitt