Q & A With Los Angeles D-Fenders General Manager Nick Mazzella
In early September, Nick Mazzella was hired as the new General Manager of the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Mazzella has been involved in the Lakers organization for the past nine seasons, both as a member of their public relations department, and as a part-time basketball operations assistant. Mazzella has been a part of two NBA championship Lakers teams, and will look to implement his winning history with the D-Fenders franchise.
Mazzella will have ample help in his new role from multiple resources. Along with Mazzella’s promotion, Glenn Carraro was named Vice President of Basketball Operations, while also resuming his position as Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. Carraro has 18 years of NBA experience, and was General Manager of the D-Fenders during their record setting 2011-2012 season. Carraro and Mazzella will work closely together moving forward, and in an organization loaded with talented personnel such as the Lakers, the future looks bright for Mazzella, and the D-Fenders.
Mazzella spoke with DleagueDigest.com, and discussed his new role with the D-Fenders, as well as his time in the Lakers organization.
D-League Digest: You have a tremendously unique background, how do you think your experience in public relations will help you as a general manager?
Nick Mazzella: I’ve been involved in the Lakers organization since I was a junior in college back in the 04′-05′ season (editors note: Mazzella is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, with a minor in Sports Management in 2006). I’ve watched a lot of basketball, and working alongside John Black, Vice President of Public Relations, I learned how to analyze the game a lot differently by writing and keeping up with game notes. I also provided statistical analysis for assistant coaches during that time. I believe to be an effective general manager, you need a wide-range of skills.
DLD: How often will you consult with Glenn (Carraro), and pick his brain regarding matters?
Mazzella: Yeah, Glenn is still involved with the D-Fenders. He’s been a mentor of mine since I started with the Lakers back in college. He truly is the perfect person for me to learn from. The year before last season, he was a large part of the best team in D-League history. When we go about things, we have the player’s interest in mind, and working with Joey Buss there is always the drive to win, because ultimately he wants to win.
DLD: Speaking of Joey Buss, it seems like the D-Fenders are extra special to him, can you elaborate a little more on his overall impact?
Mazzella: He has a lot of ideas, his mind is always racing and trying to figure out ways to win. He is a great person to work for because he allows us to do our jobs, he trusts us, and knows that we’re all on the same page with him in trying to win.
DLD: With the close relationship between the Lakers and D-Fenders, and having coaches, trainers, and players always around the facility, do you think that sets the tone and helps create expectations for the D-Fenders players?
Mazzella: No question, when you’re on our court, you look up and are surrounded by all of the championship banners. It benefits our entire staff, not just the players. I can literally walk 20 feet and knock on Glenn’s door, or Mitch Kupchak’s door, it’s great.
DLD: You announced your new assistant coaches for the upcoming season a short bit ago, how did that process go down?
Mazzella: I had a lot to do with the decision, but really it was all of us (Kupchak, Carraro, MacKinnon) together making those decisions. We came up with a list of coaches, and we landed our first choices. Casey Owens coached with MacKinnon in the past, and we think with Thomas Scott’s background, he can really help with player development. We think that we have the best staff in the entire league.
DLD: NBA commissioner David Stern recently commented on the fact that the NBA D-League has more or less done a great job developing players, and is also welcoming to players once they turn 18 years old. What are your thoughts on players entering the NBADL without college experience?
Mazzella: Players come from all different backgrounds and life experiences, I think its important for the D-League to remain an option for players in general, and to provide them with a place to showcase their talents.