Commonly, the idea of a woman coaching a professional basketball team is the kind of stuff you can only see in the movies, but that could be changing soon.
Natalie Nakase recently became the first female head coach in Japan's professional basketball league and now she'd like to become the Jeremy Lin of coaches. She's not thinking WNBA. Nope, this 31-year-old American would like to become the first woman to break the NBA's gender coaching barrier.
A former UCLA point guard, Nakase also played two seasons in the National Women's Basketball League, which went out of business many years ago. She's dreaming of becoming the next George Karl or Erik Spoelstra, but wouldn't mind becoming an NBA assistant.
"I'm starting to realize that I have the responsibility of giving women hopefully a chance to see that they can do it, too, even if not in basketball,” Nakase told the AFP. "It could be in a working field."
Dreams are great, but you also have to win. The biggest obstacle right now is that Nakase's Japanese team is playing lousy basketball. The Saitama Broncos have a 9-23 record, second-worst in the 10-team Eastern Conference.
Former Spurs head coach Bob Hill hired Nakase as an assistant coach with his Tokyo-based team last season before that franchise folded. She's been coaching since 2008, when a knee injury ended her playing days.
"I would never bet against her," Hill told the AP via email. "Her strength is her desire to coach men and win. I believe she will continue to learn and become an outstanding coach. I think this season has taught her many, many valuable lessons."
Indeed it would be something to see a woman coaching men in the NBA, it still feels far away and littered with hurdles, but it hasn't dimmed Nakase's hope, and that's what dreams are all about.
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