Legendary NBA Coach Says He Grows Weed Now and Puffs It with Willie Nelson
Don Nelson carries his victorious streak into retirement by smoking pot, playing poker, and kicking it with America's favorite cannabis cowboy.
Published on June 26, 2019

Former Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson has officially traded in his X's and O's for spliffs and bowls. 

In a feature on the latest episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the former Celtics star – who currently holds the NBA record for headcoach with the most wins– let viewers in on his ultra-chill retirement lifestyle. Leaving the lower 48 for a full-time life on a 22-acre property in Hawaii, Nelson now spends his days growing and smoking copious amounts of weed, spending time with family, and playing poker with Willie Nelson.

Don and Willie have been friends for years, and have bonded over a mutual love for pot and poker, with both men trading heavy-drinking pasts for heavy-toking old age. And with Hawaii home to a fertile medical marijuana program — including legal home grow — the duo often deal cards over joints of Don’s very own buds. And you better believe that he takes his crop just as seriously as any fourth quarter comeback.

“You gotta treat it like a baby,” Nelson told Gumbel about his ganja garden. “You gotta water ’em. You gotta have music for ’em. You gotta bless ’em. It’s a whole process, I’m telling you.”

Outside of the garden, poker is Nelson’s next true love, with a nightly game at his Hawaiian estate so serious that when a regular player literally died at the table, the game didn’t stop. 

"He died right there — right in front of us," Nelson recounted to Gumbel. "And the guys said, 'What should we do, Nellie?' I said, 'He would want you guys to play.'" And so the chips kept slashing until the coroner showed up. Sounds to us like that weed Nelson grows is pretty damn strong.

It was not apparent at the time, but in the years since, the Nelson-coached Golden State Warriors team from 2007-2008 has emerged as an NBA cannabis advocacy all-star team, with ganjapreneur Al Harrington and vocal legalization activists Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and Baron Davis all sharing the same locker room back then. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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