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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Vinny Del Negro likes good notes

By Henry Abbott

Kate Fagan has written a fantastic story on ESPNW about the Clippers' new video intern, Natalie Nakase, who is vastly overqualified for her current position, but sought the gig, like many do, because it's a foot in the door for someone with big aspirations.

In Nakase's case, she aspires to be groundbreaking female coach in the NBA.

She got the internship by being about as persistent, hard-working and opportunistic as one can be. She eventually impressed several members of the Clippers' staff, who wanted to offer her a position.
There was just one obstacle, a big obstacle: Coach Vinny Del Negro wasn't on board yet.

Del Negro didn't know a thing about Nakase. Who was she? Where had she come from? How serious was she about the game? Del Negro played for Hill in San Antonio, which helped, but he wanted more firsthand proof that Nakase knew her stuff.

Instead of getting the job, Nakase was given an open invitation to observe the Clippers' summer workouts. She did, arriving early and leaving late. She settled into a corner of the gym and filled pages in her notebook: assessing each player's footwork, diagramming the angles the coaches taught, counting the number of repetitions required before moving on. Nakase's scribbling included words, phrases, numbers and arrows, like a cross between an NFL playbook and graduate-level lecture notes.

After a few days, Del Negro walked over to Nakase, intrigued to discover just what, exactly, she had been so thoroughly detailing. He asked whether he could see her notes. She handed them over. Del Negro looked down, absorbing it all for a few moments. Then he looked at Nakase.

"You've got the job," he said.