Behind The Scenes of The Unsung Heroes of an NBA Coaching Staff

During the course of the year, I get several inquiries from young people wanting to get into the NBA as a video room intern or assistant. This is one of paths that some coaches have taken to become a head coach, Erik Spoelstra, for example. I try and be as informative and encouraging as possible with these prospective coaches. It’s hard for someone who has never lived in the Video Room to imagine what it’s like, so let’s take a look behind the scenes at these Unsung Heroes of an NBA Coaching Staff.

QUALIFICATIONS…… A college degree is a must. Non negotiable. Some background in basketball is also necessary, either as a player, student assistant, manager or assistant coach in high school or college. Must be able to operate efficiently on very little sleep, develop great relationships with the coaching staff, and be able to perform all tasks, regardless of how menial they think them to be, with a smile on their face and a positive attitude. They must have excellent computer skills. Oh yeah, and they must have a GREAT ability to take, (and give out), a heavy amount of Tom Foolerey from the coaching staff. Thin skinned people need not apply. Take your job seriously, but not yourself seriously.

COMPENSATION…… Anything from zero to just enough to pay the bills.

DUTIES…… This is where the description gets lengthy. I’m sure I will be doing those in Videos Rooms across the league a disservice by probably unintentionally leaving something out, but here it goes:

1. WORK UNBELIEVABLE HOURS….. A typical day includes arriving at the gym around 6:00 am. You may get a 2-3 hour break in the late afternoon, but report back in the early evening and work late into the night, usually until 10-11 pm to break down and log the late games. Even though players get some days off during the season, video guys MAY get Christmas Day off (unless your team is playing), and that’s about it. It is a year around job. After the season, a typical 8 hour day is reasonable. Pre Draft preparation, Summer League and post season projects for the coaches is what they can expect from June through September. They may be able to schedule it so that each one in the “Cave”, as we call it, can have a week or two off. Once the first of October rolls around, it’s all hands on deck until the end of the season.

2. BREAK DOWN GAMES…… Go through each game, (your own, upcoming opponents, D- League, International and college), and watch each possession. Each possession has a “category” into which it goes. Not just Offense/Defense, but more specifically what play type, a “Call” if it is available from the advance scout, what type of defensive coverage is being played, personnel, and any other kind of information the coaches want.

3. LOG LIVE GAMES…… The head video coordinator usually “live logs” their teams game from the video room at the arena. As this is happening, he may also need to pull clips from that game as the coaches send back messages as to what clip they want to see immediately. The video assistants live log games from the practice facility when the team is on the road, and from the arena during home games. The VC must have the knowledge and ability to recognize their teams plays as well as the opponents plays. As each play happens, they log and label each one in real time. This takes tremendous concentration and must be done efficiently without the distraction of getting caught up emotionally in the game. They must be “clutter free”, as Doc likes to say.

4. FAST DRAW WIZARD…… The video room staff must have the ability to use Fast Draw soft wear to quickly draw up plays for the coaches.

5. SHAG BALLS…… From time to time, the coaches may request the video room staff to help rebound on the court.

6. WORK WITH THE ADVANCE SCOUT…… The team advance scout stays one step ahead of the posse. He is at the game, (or games), just prior to the team playing them. His report usually goes to the VC, and they work together gathering the correct play calls from that team. This information is then passed on to the assistant coach in charge of that “scout”. With some teams, like ours, the VC may also have scout game responsibilities.

7. HAUL AROUND GEAR…… On road trips, the VC is responsible for the transport and set up of all video equipment……and don’t make the mistake of not having the video working, because they will hear it from the players….good natured, of course, (well, usually).

8. ANALYTICS…… Have the ability to gather any statistical information the coaches may want, quickly and efficiently.

The video room is a great entry level position into the NBA. It’s not the only way, but it gives that person a great indoctrination into the league. It is unlike anything they may have experienced in high school or college. A year in “The Cave” is a crash course into the world of the NBA. Good luck to all of those who wish to enter………