Partly because I saw him blow up the local NBA franchise and partly because I came to realize he's part reptile, few matters in local sport have tugged at my convictions like the concept of Don Nelson and his dual personas in the Hall of Fame.
I think Nellie deserves it. No, Nelson doesn't deserve it. Yes, well, maybe Nellie/Nelson does deserve it.
OK, they do.
After numerous snubs over the years, Nellie/Nelson finally will enter the Hall. They revealed to ESPN Wednesday that they has been notified of his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, with the official announcement coming Monday.
It's a deserving honor for two men who spent 11 seasons coaching the Bucks, 61/2 seasons coaching the Warriors, three-fourths of a season coaching the Knicks, 73/4 of a season coaching the Mavericks and, lastly, another four seasons with the Warriors.
It's evident that this selection represents a matter of the Nellie's "pros" at last outweighing the Nelson's "cons."
Nellie is one of the game's great innovators, particularly on offense, where he found ways to create matchups favorite to his club. He invented the "point forward" concept and found numerous ways to get desirable spacing.
Nelson is one of the game's great hustlers, and I mean that in the most unflattering way. His blade, if he saw fit, spared no man's back. With every stop Nelson displayed a proclivity for shenanigans, whether it was though some sneaky form of manipulation or purely Machiavellian tactics.
Nellie's 1,335 wins are more than any other coach in NBA history. Never mind that this distinction deserves an asterisk insofar as Larry Brown's combined NBA/ABA wins exceed those of Nelson. For some reason, the NBA recognizes ABA player statistics but not those amassed by coaches.
Nelson was a bully, seemingly enjoying routine verbal abuse of such earned men as Sarunas Marciulionis, Tyrone Hill and — the one that finally undid him in Oakland -- Chris Webber.
The delay in Nellie reaching the Hall surely is related to bridges burned by Nelson's flaming ego. His interpersonal tactics, often underhanded and always designed to present his best angle, made a lot of enemies around the league.
That Nellie spent roughly 31 years as an NBA head coach without once winning it all and, moreover, never even reaching the championship round, served to remind one and all that even his best gadgets and gimmicks weren't enough to earn a parade.
But the numbers would not quit. And I concede the sheer numbers compiled by Nellie provided just enough testimony to erode my resistance to Nelson.
Nellie/Nelson, 71, officially is the NBA's all-time winningest coach, and that has to merit something other than a line in the record book.
It's enough to overcome Nellie's lack of postseason success (75-91 record in the playoffs) and all the additional baggage Nelson picked up not through utilizing but through following his own wicked desire to for power, no matter the effect on others.
Nelson, who doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, is the man who nearly 20 years ago used actions and mind games to ruin the Warriors.
It was Nellie, though, who made them relevant.
So we're talking about a man who is not a Hall of Fame individual, but is a Hall of Fame coach.
So congratulations to Nellie for overcoming Nelson. They often worked in contrast, but they did enough to be placed among the game's legends.
Contact Monte Poole at email@example.com.