March 19, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors former coach Don Nelson waves to fans during the half time ceremony to retire the #17 jersey of Chris Mullin at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Don Nelson is being inducted for his work as the league's winningest coach, but was also a Celtics great, winning five titles in 11 seasons with the club and having his No. 19 retired.
A pair of Boston Celtics legends will be enshrined tonight in Springfield in Don Nelson and Don Barksdale, although neither is being inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for their on-court contributions in a class headlined by Reggie Miller.
Nelson is being honored for his career as the league's winningest coach of all time, but his No. 19 hangs in the rafters for his playing time in Boston. Nelson has won 1,335 career games, but began his basketball life as a player, winning five NBA Championships over the course of 11 seasons in Boston. He won five championships in Boston, with a foul-line jump shot in the final minute of Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals helping Boston pull away for their 11th title in 13 seasons.
Barksdale only played two seasons with Boston, but is being inducted as a contributor to the game for his role in helping integrate the sport: one of the first African-American basketball stars, Barksdale was the first black player to be named an NCAA All-American, the first to represent the United States at the Olympics in basketball, and in 1953, the first to be named to an NBA All-Star Game. He only played four seasons in the NBA, retiring after his stint with the Celtics. He passed away in 1993, but will be honored tonight nonetheless.
Nelson and Barksdale join ten others who will be inducted Friday night. The ceremony will be broadcast on NBATV, beginning with a red carpet show at 6:30 p.m. ET and getting underway at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Head over to SB Nation's NBA hub for more on tonight's ceremonies.