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

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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.

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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.

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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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