Former Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson is enjoying the good life in Maui — he spends his days drinking wine, smoking cigars, playing golf and poker games with his celebrity buddies. Nelson still keeps close tabs on the NBA, and he’s not afraid to talk openly and critically of his former players when watching games with a reporter. Per SI: “Later, when Warriors forward David Lee gets the ball on the block, Nelson smirks. ‘You better go to him,’ he says, ‘because he can’t guard anybody.’ Still, even after they lose, he says only positive things about [Mark] Jackson: ‘A good guy. I thought it would hurt him when he lost his assistant [Mike Malone, now the Kings’ coach], but he’s doing fine. He’s got enough bulls— that works as a coach.’ Nelson chuckles, picks up his Chardonnay. ‘You got to be a bit of a bulls—ter.’ Unlike many coaches, he loved Stephen Jackson. ‘That guy’ll give it to you all day,’ Nelson says. ‘He just had some mental issues. He played his ass off for me. You just never knew when he was going to blow his mind.’ […] As for former Golden State guard Monta Ellis, now with the Mavericks, Nelson calls him ‘an incredible, gifted athlete’ but ‘a pain in the ass when I had him.’ One day, Nellie recalls, ‘I said, ‘You know, Monta, this is what I want you to do in practice today. I don’t want you to take a shot. I think you have the ability to create and make plays. If you could ever be a point guard, the way you can score, you could really be a special player.’ So he did. He found people in practice. And I said, ‘Monta, why don’t you focus on being a great point guard. They have the most fun of anybody. They’re the man, they control everything.’ Nellie pauses. ‘He said, ‘Coach, I just want to play. I just want to play.’ He wouldn’t consider that. Now, as he’s matured, he’s started making plays. To his credit, he’s a pretty good player right now. When I had him, all he wanted to do, little selfish bastard, was to shoot every time. And never pass.'”
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