Former New York Knicks head coach Don Nelson once suggested the idea of trading Patrick Ewing for Shaquille O’Neal.
There are numerous ways to get fired as a coach in professional sports. It could be due to a low-level performance when it comes to the game itself, a bad relationship with the organization, or even due to personal-related instances.
But for former New York Knicks head coach Don Nelson, it was because of one idea he had in mind to improve the roster. At least that’s what the 79-year-old lifelong basketball man claims.
Nelson, who was only the head coach of the Knicks for nine months, appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble” this week. While interviewed, Nelson spoke about why he was fired in March of 1996. Ultimately, it was because of his idea to trade Patrick Ewing for Shaquille O’Neal.
“I said, ‘You need to trade Patrick Ewing. And you need to trade him right away. There’s a guy by the name of Shaquille O’Neal that’s available, would love to come to New York. And we can jump in there and beat the Lakers out and get this guy. And we should do it,'” Nelson said. “And of course it got back to Ewing, and I was done. I was toast.”
Nelson did give his reasoning behind it. Ewing was aging at 33-years-old at the time, and Shaq was becoming a young star in his early 20s. Nelson also thought of Ewing as a player that was “one-dimensional” on the floor.
“He was, you know, he was interested in rebounds and points,” Nelson said. “And that was it. And I thought that we could do better.”
Whether or not Nelson’s claims are true remain open-ended in the hoops atmosphere. All we know for sure is the man who enjoyed a tremendous NBA career is seemingly loving life while growing and smoking his branded “Nellie Kush” in Maui, HI.