Kazuo Nakamura’s coaching tenure with the Akita Northern Happinets will conclude at the end of this season, according to published reports.
The 73-year-old bench boss is in the third and final season of his contract and the team’s front office will not offer him an extension, the Sakigake Shimbun wrote over the weekend.
The Akita-based newspaper and 47news.jp news reports stated that Nakamura will retire, but he has said in past interviews with The Japan Times he’d “like to coach until he’s 75, maybe 80.”
Akita is 36-12 and in second place in the bj-league’s 11-team Eastern Conference.
The Sakigake Shimbun reported that 43-year-old Makoto Hasegawa, the team’s technical director, will be appointed as Nakamura’s successor.
Nakamura’s career began as a high school girls basketball coach in 1966.
Since moving to the bj-league in 2008 with the JBL team formerly known as OSG Phoenix, Nakamura, an Akita native, has achieved great success. He led Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix to three Final Fours and back-to-back championships in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The Phoenix’s regular-season record in those three seasons: 117-33.
The Happinets went 28-24 in 2011-12 under Nakamura and 26-26 last season, advancing to the playoffs both times.
Hasegawa, a longtime point guard in the JBL and bj-league with a stint in the relaunched ABA (San Diego WildFire), hung up his shoes last spring. The Akita native, a popular player throughout Japan since his schoolboy days, has been with the team since its inception in 2010.
Editor’s note: Here is an archived One On One feature on Nakamura’s long, colorful coaching career: info.japantimes.co.jp/text/sk20110918i1.html