Keith Smart is a Hoosier legend for making a shot that gave Indiana University an NCAA basketball title. Now, 23 years later, he's getting his first shot as a head coach in the National Basketball Association.
The Golden State Warriors appointed Smart to replace the fired Don Nelson, ending four years under the head coach with the most victories in NBA history.
The team announced the firing of Nelson, 70, and the promotion of Smart, 46, Monday at a media preview of training camp. Smart was an assistant under Nelson and is the team’s 23rd coach.
“We feel that Keith Smart is ready for this challenge as we embark on a new season,” General Manager Larry Riley said in a statement. “He has a wealth of experience as a player and coach in this game and has been fortunate to be around some of the best minds in the business, including Don Nelson at the NBA level.”
The Warriors were sold in mid-July. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the team for an NBA-record $450 million from Chris Cohan, according to Galatioto Sports Partners, which advised Cohan on the sale.
Lacob is managing partner at the San Francisco Bay area- based venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Guber is chairman of Mandalay Entertainment Group. They outbid other potential buyers including Larry Ellison, the billionaire chief executive of Oracle Corp.
Smart played college basketball under Bobby Knight at IU. In the 1987 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship game, Smart hit a baseline jumper with one second remaining to give the Hoosiers a 74-73 victory against Syracuse University.
Smart played in the Continental Basketball Association as well as in France and Venezuela. He joined the Warriors as an assistant coach before the 2003-04 season.
A three-time NBA coach of the year, Nelson led the Warriors from 1988 through 1995 and returned in 2006. He was the NBA’s oldest active coach and his 1,335 wins are the most in NBA history.
The Warriors were 145-183 in Nelson’s final four years with the team. Last season, the team finished 26-56, the fourth-worst record in the league and the Warriors’ worst finish since going 17-65 in 2002-03.