Las Vegas Aces’ assistant coach Natalie Nakase becomes first Asian American coach to win WNBA title

  • Las Vegas Aces assistant coach Natalie Nakase became the first Asian American coach to win a WNBA title after the team defeated the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday.
  • Nakase, 42, joined the Aces’ coaching staff under head coach Becky Hammon in February.
  • A former collegiate point guard who averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 assists per game for the University of California, Los Angeles, the Japanese American athlete decided to pursue coaching in 2007 following a knee injury.
  • With the dream of becoming a coach in the NBA, she joined the Clippers in 2012 and became an assistant coach to their NBA G League development team in 2017.
  • She then became a player development assistant coach for the Clippers in 2018 and stayed with the team until she joined the Aces in February.

Las Vegas Aces assistant coach Natalie Nakase made history on Sunday as the first Asian American coach to win a WNBA title. 

The Aces captured their first championship title in franchise history by defeating the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

Nakase, a former assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA, joined the Aces’ coaching staff under head coach Becky Hammon in February. 

The 42-year-old Japanese American played college basketball as a point guard for the University of California, Los Angeles, averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 assists per game as a three-year starter. 

In 2005, Nakase became the first Asian American player in the National Women’s Basketball League (NWBL). A ligament injury in 2007 made her decide to pursue coaching with the dream of becoming a coach in the NBA.

Nakase first served as the head coach of a women’s team in Germany before becoming the first female head coach in Japan’s top pro men’s league.

In 2012, she joined the Clippers as a video coordinator and eventually became an assistant coach to their NBA G League development team some five years later. She then became a player development assistant coach for the Clippers in 2018 and stayed with the team until she joined the Aces in February.

Hammon, who was a long-time San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, also made history on Sunday as she became the first rookie coach in WNBA history to win a title in her debut season as a head coach.

 

Featured Image via Paloma Villicana

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