Nurse: the brain of the champion tanned in England and the D-League

The Raptors coach gets the ring in his rookie year and is the only technical champion of the Development League to win the NBA.


Nick Nurse is a peculiar type. Outside matches (training, press conferences) does not look like a coach. With his cap, his sweatshirts and his shorts and walking around the center of the track he could be confused with any employee of the franchise. Those who know him say he is a joker, with good humor, even inside the locker room. Until things do not go as they should. "He's a very teasing guy until you stop playing hard," Lowry once explained.

The path that led to the ring is one of the most curious. He began to train as soon as he finished his university career, combining the roles of player and coach. A his twenty-something years already stood out for his privileged head and his revolutionary ideas in attack. Life took him on distant roads to his native Iowa. In 1990 he left to play and train the Storm Derby of the English league. In England he trained until 2006 in different stages and in different teams, conquering two leagues and having at his orders a Nigerian player who would later hire him as Raptors coach: the current president of operations Masai Ujiri. "All I remember about Nick at that time is that he was very young and that if you listened to the people around him you realized that he was brilliant," commented Ujiri some time ago.

From the Development League to the NBA

The opportunity to return to his country came to him from the Iowa Energy, a team from his newly created land that disputed the Development League. There he was four, winning the title in the last of them. The following year he signed for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, where he also got a D-League title. By that time (2013) he had already earned a name in the NBA circles and the people closest told him why he did not try to make the jump to the best league in the world, giving him to understand that the D-League was not important enough "They asked me why I was not looking for a job in the NBA or the university league, the really important they said, I think they were not aware of what I was doing Every job I've had I liked and at that moment I was trying to learn", Nurse said at the time.

In the end, the doors of the NBA opened in 2013 as an assistant to Dwane Casey in the Raptors. He was at his side for five years until he was fired. Last summer he was one of the candidates Ujiri interviewed for the position and who he chose. "From the Summer League I saw how I started to improve the younger ones, they played hard and in the end I ended up loving to see my team," explained the Raptors operations president. Almost a year later he has become the first person to win the D-League and NBA and has done so in his first year in the American competition. His last turn of the wheel in his continuous tactical innovations has been in the defense, the plot of the game that stood out the least in him. That defense is the one that managed to annul Embiid, Antetokounmpo and now it has limited the best attack of the planet in some Finals.



Photos from as.com

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