Click photo to enlarge
Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson gestures after his team loses the lead to the Houston Rockets in the 4th quarter of their game on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. Houston defeats the Warriors 111-109. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

One of these days, maybe today in Minnesota, Don Nelson will coax another victory out of this Warriors team, and then he'll truly stand alone.

Alone atop the NBA all-time career coaching victories' list, breaking the tie with Lenny Wilkens at 1,332.

And all alone, literally, if you're looking for another significant figure to join the celebration — any longtime player, any peer, or any executive who ever hired him.

Look for them as long as you want. They won't be there.

Of course, whenever Nelson gets victory No. 1,333 (it sure didn't happen Tuesday in Washington) his young players will gather around him and Warriors employees will serenade him.

That's a lot of victories. Nelson should enjoy the moment.

But it's likely that not a single member of the Warriors squad he inherited almost four years ago will be there when it happens.

Everybody else from the 2006-2007 team has departed, only Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins remain, and neither is around these days due to injuries and implied frustrations.

Chris Mullin, the executive who hired Nelson and eventually was ousted, certainly will not be anywhere near.

Nelson's son, Donnie, who remained in the Dallas front office after his father's acrimonious exit, probably won't be there.

Lastly, Chris Cohan, the owner who hired Nelson twice, publicly put the Warriors up for sale last month and hasn't been seen in weeks.

Catch a theme here? Nelson survives, somehow, while around him there is only wreckage.

And those who know him best stay the farthest away.

In other stops, it hasn't always gone precisely like this — at times, he was the one sent away quickly; other times, he was the one quickly identifying and eliminating his front-office foes.

But if you've been around the league for a while, there's a large chance that you feel like you've been burned by Don Nelson, at least once.

Magically, while the Warriors endure a second consecutive dreadful season, it's Nelson who's set up with a $6 million contract for next season and about to register a milestone victory.

But everybody else who helped get him there — except his latest batch of scrambling players — is scattered far and wide.

If you want an explanation for Nelson's continued inability to get voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, it's all there in that image.

A caveat: I believe Nelson should be in the Hall for his innovative mind and his longevity, despite the fact that he never coached a team to the NBA finals.

Nelson has made an imprint on this game and he should be acknowledged for it.

But it's also oddly appropriate that the most political Hall of Fame in sports is barring entry for such a noted political, front-office plotter.

Hall of Fame karma, I guess.

The Hall won't name the 24 voters who decide election or announce the vote totals, which is a tipoff right there.

But it's clear that Nelson is so unpopular that he may never receive the 18 necessary votes, with or without the record.

Including this year, Nelson has been a finalist four times, failing each.

I mean, if Nelson wasn't worthy of election last year, why would he be more worthy after this destructive season? As a 2011 pity induction?

By the way, every coach who has won 1,000 or more NBA games has been voted into the Hall relatively easily, except Nelson, who has 1,332.

"I have great respect for Nellie," Hall board chairman Jerry Colangelo told NBA.com recently. "He's made a lot of contributions to this game. Very innovative, without question.

"Controversial at times, because that's just a little bit of his character. He's won a ton of basketball games. He's there as a candidate because he's deserving of that, and hopefully he'll get enough consideration to get elected."

It didn't happen this year, just as he's about to pass Wilkens, which is interesting in and of itself.

Nelson, 70, has gotten to this place because he's a premier political survivor/schemer.

It certainly hasn't been about amassing championships, installing defensive purpose or winning the wholehearted trust of his greatest players. And that, by the way, is how you win championships.

Nelson survives. He schemes. He forges temporary alliances, he feints, he baits, he plays tricks, then he moves again — it's just like how he coaches.

But those unruly survival skills are precisely why the Hall of Fame electorate has turned its nose at him, time and again.

Really, this is Nelson's burden. And his alone.