Mavs got a no-brainer, must-win last night over the Memphis Grizzlies to remain tied for second place in the NBA's Western Conference with four games remaining. While Dallas jockeys to stay out of the Los Angeles Lakers' bracket and while owner Mark Cuban fired a strange, but strong warning shot over the bow, a former Mav coach made a little history last night.
Don Nelson's Golden State Wariors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, giving Nellie the record for the most head-coaching wins in NBA history. Nelson, who coached the Mavs from 1998-2005, has won an astounding 1,333 games over 31 seasons.
Problem? Despite all those victories, his teams have never even made it to the NBA Finals, much less won a championship.
Nellie is fun. He's quotable. He's innovative. He identified and nurtured Dirk Nowitzki into the greatest player in Mavs' history. I remember sitting with him at Hooters in the West End one night and diagramming plays on a napkin until they shut the place down. I remember sitting with his wife, Joy, days after his prostate cancer surgery.
Love me some Nellie.
But where exactly does he rank on the list of all-time best coaches in Dallas?
5. Rick Carlisle - 101-59 in two seasons so far, but must deliver a deep playoff run.
4. John MacLeod - Took Mavs within one game of the NBA Finals in 1988.
3. Dick Motta - Original coach established foundation for winning in the 1980s.
2. Avery Johnson - Only Dallas leader to win Coach of the Year and take team to NBA Finals.
1. Don Nelson - 339 wins are the most by a Mavs' head coach and he delivered Dirk.