The vigorous force known as Don Nelson is looking dramatically different these days, as the often loud and unreserved NBA legend has made a complete 180 since his days in the league. Instead of yelling plays from the sidelines, the former Boston Celtics player-turned-head coach is now living out his days on the peaceful island of Maui, playing several hands of poker and watching over his marijuana farm, as every 79-year-old should.
In an upcoming episode of HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, Nellie talks with the veteran journalist about several key moments throughout his 48-year tenure in the NBA, as well as his life off the court. He detailed his lifestyle habits while on the road as an NBA player leading to a fling with a flight attendant, which resulted in the birth of a daughter he didn't know about for decades. Upon meeting her for the first time, Nelson said, "I have the same emotions today as I had then. I was excited. I knew she was mine. Absolutely."
A frequent poker player, the 5-time NBA champion and 3-time Coach of the Year recounted a story about his friend Greg Booth, who passed away during an evening get-together. "He died right there—right in front of us," he said. "And the guys said, 'What should we do, Nellie?' I said, 'He would want you guys to play.'" The group continued to do so until the arrival of the coroner.
He also talked about his 22-acre weed farm on his Hawaiian estate, saying, "You gotta treat it like a baby. You gotta water ’em. You gotta have music for ’em. You gotta bless ’em when you go in. It’s a whole process, I’m telling you."
It's hard to believe that the mellow individual in the above video is the same man as the coach in the video below, where Coach Nellie of the Dallas Mavericks got ejected just a mere minute and a half into the game.
Head up top for the teaser for the upcoming episode of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel, which premieres on June 25 on HBO.