Title: Nick Nurse Leading the Raptors Feels Like a Good Fit, Bad Optics Be Damned
Date: June 15, 2018
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: In my latest for Vice, I wrote about the Raptors’ hiring of Nick Nurse and how it projects to be much better than the optics might suggest.
It was as far back as Masai Ujiri’s playing days that he knew Nick Nurse was different. Nurse, having previously spent time in the British Basketball League as a player-coach, was at the helm of the Birmingham Bullets, coaching opposite Ujiri, a player with the Derby Storm at the time, Nurse’s former team. The specifics are fuzzy—Nurse says Ujiri “played really hard” with a wry smile—but the Toronto Raptors president recalls Nurse’s Birmingham team being the talk of the league for their unique approach up against the league’s deeper-pocketed London teams.
“His teams were tough. I remember there was always something about the Birmingham team that was different from the whole league,” Ujiri recalled Thursday as he introduced Nurse as the new head coach of the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. “I remember that. People would talk about them that way. Birmingham was one of those teams that you just talked about and the way they played.”
It’s that same ingenuity that defined the bulk of Nurse’s introductory press conference. Innovation was the buzz word of choice, and the way Nurse thinks outside the box as a general problem solving approach largely sounds like the factor that earned him the job over Ettore Messina, who was in the mix as late as this past weekend. The Raptors looked long and hard at a number of candidates with fresh, untested perspectives at the NBA level, ultimately deciding on the man they’ve had in-house for the last five years as an assistant.