Warriors, Record-Chasing Nelson Visit White House, Lose to Wizards
Then again, the Golden State Warriors didn't get to meet the president.
On the day in which Nelson had his first stab at trying to break the NBA coaching wins record he shares with Lenny Wilkens, the Warriors took a tour of the White House. But the only sighting of President Obama was from afar.
"I saw him,'' said Nelson, who has been to the White House before, winning five titles as a player with Boston. "I didn't get a chance to talk with him. We saw him out in the sun around noon reading. Having a chance to see [the White House] was great.''
It was lot better than what unfolded later in the day at the Verizon Center. The Warriors were crushed 112-94 by Washington, leaving Nelson tied with Wilkens at 1,332 coaching wins.
Nelson, who tied Wilkens' mark Sunday at Toronto, has five more games this season in which to break the mark. The next two, at Minnesota on Wednesday and at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, afford the best chance.
Nelson's Warriors got their White House invitation due to his wife, Joy, being a big Obama supporter and having set it up. Perhaps all that walking around on a 90-degree day took its toll.
The Warriors were never competitive against the Wizards. They fell behind 15-2 and were down 68-43 at halftime.
"We're tired,'' said Nelson, who used only seven players due to injuries and illness and whose team was down to six when rookie guard Stephen Curry sat out the final eight minutes because of a right mild shoulder strain that isn't considered serious.
"I changed up on them and took them to the White House. That's a lot of walking, standing around. But I thought it was worth the effort for them to experience it. ... If that had something to do with our demise [Tuesday], I would accept responsibility. But I still think it was a good thing to do.''
Curry called the White House experience "awesome.'' As for his shoulder, Curry said he hurt it on the first play of the game, but he played through it. He wasn't in at end due to the game being out of hand but doesn't expect the injury will keep him out against the Timberwolves.
"We got another chance,'' Curry said. "[Nelson is] tied for it now. We got a great opportunity to go and win.''
So Nelson's Warriors (23-54), who had won two straight, will pick themselves up and again go for the record. Nelson doesn't seem to be bothered if it might take a while.
"The fact that we were able to win in Toronto and tie Lenny Wilkens, that was important we did it there,'' Nelson said of Wilkens once having coached the Raptors. "That was enough for me. ... If that's the case [of it taking multiple attempts to break the mark], then that's fine.''
Nelson has called Wilkens his "idol,'' which Wilkens told FanHouse on Sunday is "flattering.'' Nelson said he called Wilkens on Monday to talk about having tied his record.
"I've known Lenny for a long time,'' said Nelson, who has a 1,332-1,061 mark in 31 seasons while Wilkens went 1,332-1,155 in 32 seasons before retiring in 2005. "He's like the perfect coach. The guy has been very successful and humble and all the things that you would like to be. So that's why I try to emulate him late in my career. I wish I would have earlier. I was a pretty tough coach and pretty emotional. I've tried to be less like that and more like Lenny Wilkens, and I think it's helped my career actually.''
Now, Golden State's players seem to love Nelson. Forward Devean George talked Tuesday about wanting to re-sign as a free agent with the Warriors this summer because of the coach.
George also talked about really wanting to get the record-setting win for Nelson.
"We definitely want to be part of that team that puts him over the top,'' George said. "We're excited for him.''
After Sunday's 113-112 victory over the Raptors, Golden State's players danced in a circle around Nelson. George said it's undecided what might be done when Nelson becomes the sole holder of the mark.
"Whatever comes,'' George said. "It's not premeditated. Whatever comes will come. We'll be excited.''
A tired Nelson wasn't too excited when greeting the media after Tuesday's game, putting down his Bud Light to talk and eventually cutting the interview short because of a sore throat. But perhaps soon the Warriors can give Nelson a reason to upgrade his beverage to champagne.
There has been speculation about the future of Nelson, 70 next month. But he has continued to insist his plan is to coach next season, which will be the final year of his contract, and then retire.
"I've thought about it, and what it will be,'' Nelson said when asked if he's contemplated being the sole record-holder. "I'm going to coach one year after this. You never know what the future holds. When those things [the record] happen, they happen. I'm not trying to put any pressure on my team to do anything other than doing the best job they can do.''
On Tuesday, the Warriors did leave it all on the floor. But it was a floor at the White House.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson