IOWA CITY, Iowa – After a combined 45 years as a player and coach in the NBA, Don Nelson will finally accept his degree from the University of Iowa at the age of 71 on Saturday, The Des Moines Register reported.
Nelson completed 10 hours of correspondence work in Spanish to earn his degree in physical education. The school reportedly waived his student-teaching requirement in lieu of Nelson's three decades worth of NBA coaching experience.
Nelson was a two-time All-American at Iowa before he left in 1962 to embark on what became a successful career as a player and coach in the NBA. He won five titles with the Boston Celtics during his 14 years as a player, before going on to coach another 31 seasons.
"It means a lot to me personally," Nelson, who turns 72 next week, told the paper. "When I went to college, I was the first male in my family with a chance to go. One thing that was important to me was to get a degree. I was in the pros for so long that I had to postpone it until now."
The three-time NBA Coach of the Year, who retired in April 2010 as the game's winningest coach with 1,335 victories, was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last month.