Don Nelson Thinks Underhanded Free Throw Idea for Biedrins Got Him Fired
Don Nelson has won more games than any other head coach in NBA history but the 70-year-old has been out of coaching this year. Nelly was fired in September after his fourth season on the job with Golden State, his second stint with the team. Though he led the team to a playoff appearance in ’08 and an upset over the Mavericks, the Warriors slipped to a sub 30-win team the past two seasons. It was no surprise when the team let him go and the job was handed over to his assistant Keith Smart, but now we may have some reasons why the move was made.
In a lengthy interview on CSN Bay Area Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle says Nelson gave a reason for his firing. “I got fired when I asked [Andris Biedrins] to (shoot underhanded),” Nelly says.
Biedrins was once an 11-11 guy who shot over 50% on his free throws, but the Russian big man dropped off horrifically last season. He averaged just five points a game and shot an atrocious 16% at the free throw line. Nelson suggested he try shooting his free throw underhanded at one point in the season, something Biedrins termed disrespectful.
If anything, the 16% shooting clip is as embarrassing to the franchise as it gets, and it’s disrespectful not to try any method your coach suggests to try and improve. Plus, it’s not as if Biedrins is doing any better now either.
In reality, Nelly’s explanation for his firing doesn’t seem to make much sense. Nelson was likely fired because the team wasn’t performing well and hadn’t been playing any defense. They’ve done better this year under Keith Smart and Biedrins has hardly been a factor. It seems quite unlikely for Biedrins to be the type of player a coach is fired over. Performance probably was the reason, not disrespect.