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Nelson has built a reputation as a "mad scientist," experimenting with lineups and offensive sets to cater to teams that were not always the biggest, strongest or most talented. In his first stint with Golden State in the late 1980s, he employed the famous "Run T-M-C" lineup of guards Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin in a run-and-gun attacking style.
In 2006-07, he led the undersized and eighth-seeded Warriors to a stunning upset of top-seeded Dallas. This year, he has captured the victories record despite a roster that has at one time or another used seven players with experience in the NBA Development League.
"I told the team that I loved them dearly, that they were very special to me," Nelson said. "But sometimes they don't play like I want them to."
This has been a long season for the Warriors (24-54), who have been ravaged by injuries and are a lock to finish with their fewest wins since 2001-02. But in some ways, this was the perfect team to take Nelson to the top of the record books.
"For us to get the record is a big accomplishment for us," rookie Stephen Curry said. "We call it our championship game."
It was extra special for Nelson to do it in Minnesota. He has a daughter who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka and had 20 family and friends at the game, including his wife. He also said Wilkens has been in contact with him recently as he neared the mark.
"Lenny's been an idol of mine for a long time," he said.
Among active coaches, Utah's Jerry Sloan (1,188) and Jackson (1,095) are closest to Nelson on the list.
"There's plenty of guys close to that if they want to coach a couple of years," Nelson said. "There's coaches out there that win 50 at a time, 60 at a time. Not like me, winning 20 at a time, it's a little harder."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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