15 April 2010
Don Nelson walked through the back hallway of the Rose Garden with a can of Bud Light in his hand and in search of some friends to explain the very bizarre finish in Portland.
At least they'd listen. The refs sure weren't according to Nelson.
“Old school coaches,” Nate McMillan said after the Blazers lost to Golden State, 122-116.
“When you’ve won as many games as Coach Nelson you can pretty much do what you want.
And he did.
With 4:47 left in the game, Devean George fouled out of the game. Or at least he thought he did. What ensued was an awkwardly strange exchange between official Eddie F. Rush and Nelson that lasted for the rest of the game and continued long after.
First, an already injured Chris Hunter – who started and only played four minutes to that point because of a sore knee – checked in for George. Nelson argued with Rush. Rush argued with Nelson. Hunter stayed in the game. After a member of the Warriors training staff fetched Ronny Turiaf’s knee brace, Turiaf subbed for Hunter who then retreated to the locker room. Seven seconds later, an injured Anthony Morrow subbed for Turiaf, who also fled to the locker room. Morrow checked out seconds later and also exited.
That left Nelson with George, who re-entered the game with six fouls and Golden State received the technical foul.
After the game, Coach Nelson pled his case:
I really only had five guys and they played 48 minutes. All those guys have great stamina to get through a game like that and win it. I’m very proud of them. It was a pretty special game for us.
It was predetermined in warm-ups that two of my players couldn’t play. To force those guys on the court is a legal issue a think. That’s not right. I have another player injured in the game and he wasn’t going to return. That was clear. I said I only have five left. The rule reads if you have five players and a player fouls, it’s a technical foul and the two free throws.
They made me put an injured player back in the game. That’s not right. I begged them – read the rule, call the league, do something. That’s not the rule. You cannot be forced to put an injured player in the game.
They told me to work with them to get through this. And they told me what I had to do for a few seconds, then say he was injured. He was injured before. He’s already injured. What do I have to do that for? Why don’t I just tell you he’s injured. That’s what I’m doing. I did it their way. It wasn’t the right way. There are rules for that. I know the rules because I’ve been playing injured all year.
Nelson said he did it the officials way.
But who is he kidding?
In the Golden State Warriors locker room after the game, the players could be heard signing Frank Sinatra's, "My Way".
Isn’t that the truth.
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