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InsideHoops [HIGH SCHOOL] Dec. 5, 2003

Ron Naclerio Interview




Ron Naclerio is as established a high school coach and all-levels basketball teacher as there is. When you see the likes of Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Rafer Alston succeed in the NBA, you're seeing bits and pieces of the result of time spent being taught basketball by Naclerio. When you see Julius Hodge destroy competition in college hoops, part of what you're seeing is the effect Naclerio has when applying personal instruction to basketball players at any level of the game. He's the long-time head coach of Cardozo high school in New York, and is so famous a teacher that players who have nothing to do with the school seek Neclario to work out with and get better. sat down with Naclerio in the beautiful Sports Club | LA in Manhattan to talk about his life in sports and what the future holds.

Editor's note: We know Naclerio. This guy definitely belongs in the NBA or with a good NCAA program. Talk about some of the specifics with working out some of the known players you've helped.

Ron Naclerio: Mike Dunleavy Jr., the biggest thing he wanted to do was learn to create space off the dribble, and I showed him two drills that I do, and he really liked it, and what's funny is being in Sports Club | LA where I was working him out, one day I came in not knowing he was in the gym and I saw him doing the drills, so that made me feel real good. And there was a time Elton Brand, he felt he was having a little trouble with his post-up game - this was about three years ago in the summer - and I was actually at a benefit basketball game and he wanted me to show him the series that I showed him way back in high school, and I went through the series, and it was funny because the people thought I was just a guy yelling at him, and it ended up being Elton knowing what I did, and the moves, and fans are like, gee, he's actually listening to this guy and learning, and the people didn't really know who I was. And there was another time when Duane Causwell was with the Heat, before the game him and Alonzo Mourning were doing this one-on-one series, and I started yelling at Duane, and when the fans were allowed out there I walked down there, so after a while Mourning started getting a little mad, and Duane started laughing, so I started yelling at Mourning, "the Heat gave you $100 million and you only have one move, gee, I could show you another move and have you get $200 million." Duane started laughing, and I got under Mourning's skin, and then Mourning was told by Duane that that's my high school coach and he really knows what he's doing. So, that's just a few stories off the bat.

Oh, another story, it was last year, Ron Artest, who I worked out, he's probably as hard a worker as I've ever worked out, had a shooting slump and called me at one in the morning, and he forgot that other people have lives, and he just said, "Coach, I'm going to fly you out here to work with me for three or four days," and I said "what are you talking about, tomorrow's my first game, I can't get out there," and he said, "Oh." And he hung up. How do you figure out exactly what each player needs to work on? You have to see a guy a lot... or I guess certain aspects of the game are easier to decipher than others...

Ron Naclerio: First of all, what I do is I write a lot of notes down, and that's why I'm a little disappointed because with the Nets, I wrote Byron Scott and Rod Thorn some of the things a player was doing wrong, and how things could be corrected, and I ended up mailing it to someone, who didn't get it until a later date, and he mailed me back a nice letter, saying "Ron, it just came on my desk..." I got complimented, and he would have gotten me an interview with Byron Scott, so it was that he thought that much of me, but I was diappointed that somehow it didn't get to his desk until a later date. But, after a while, your reputation comes from the players, and players' word of mouth and the fact that I'll just grab a guy and show him something or I'll try a drill, show him a drill that he's never seen before, and I'll say to try it, and they'll look at me like a middle-aged guy that can't play, so I'll do an And 1 mixtape move, and they'll be shocked and tell me to do it again, and I'll do it again, and they try and they can't do it, and that's when I have them. At this point is it second nature for you to look at players and tell pretty quickly what mechanics and things they're doing need fixing?

Ron Naclerio: When I deal with shooters, I first have to line their shot. I mean, I know way back Tricky Dick Barnett had everything as unorthodox as can be, and you know what? It went in, so you get to learn the guy, and there are very few times you have to make major, major adjustments, sometimes it's just minor adjustments and sometimes it's just confidence. It might be a couple of little things that they're doing wrong with their wrist, or their elbow, or sometimes it's with their bodies, and they don't even realize certain drills I do, as they're doing the drills, and they realize, let's say it's a hand thing, an elbow thing, a leg thing, and they start learning it, as they shoot through the drills that we do, certain longevity shooting, their brains tell their body the correction they have to make, that's when the shooters become better. How do you come up with the actual drills that fix things and improve the players?

Ron Naclerio: From being a player and watching some of the Pistol Pete Maravich tapes, and developing Skip to my Lou with the hotdog stuff when he was in 6th, 7th and 8th grade, I started realizing so many other ways of teaching that a lot of modern basketball coaches would look at me like I was crazy, and a lot of the old school were like, "Hey, you're destroying the game." But you know what? The players have a lot of confidence in me, and once I show them a couple of things... Let's face it, all great players are great because they want to be better, so if you show guys something that they've never seen before, or stuff that they believe will make them better, and what I did was five or six years ago I started realizing that maybe one day my chance will come. Unfortunately, it hasn't come yet, and I wanted to be prepared. What I did was, I started writing every drill down. I'm really lucky now, because I have hundreds of pages of drills, whether it's individual, one-on-one stuff, two-on-two stuff, total team stuff, that Pete Vecsey even said I should take it and made it a book. So what does the future hold for you? What should it hold?

Ron Naclerio: Everyone's dream is to move up. I'm realizing that I might have more fun in the NBA. Hoops Weiss, one of the top writers in the Daily News, he even said, "Ron, don't take this the wrong way, but the way recruiting is and the way politics are, I think your calling is to get to the NBA and work with these guys," and you know what? Whether they're 25 and in the NBA, or 19 and college freshmen, or 15 and high school freshmen... I wish I had the same gift in picking stocks on Wall Street and making money, but everybody's got their positives, and my positives are basketball X's and O's, skill development drills, and hopefully, I've been talking to the Knicks, talking to the Nets, and I really don't want to leave New York, I don't want to leave my mom ever since my brother passed away last July 20th, 2002, but if it was for the right job... I just wrote Stan Van Gundy in Miami. Hopefully, they or someone will give me that call.


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