Title: Who is Nate Bjorkgren? What to know about the new Pacers head coach via Toronto
Date: October 20, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Pacers hiring Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren.
As unlikely as it all seemed at the time, this is more or less how new Indiana Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren and Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse dreamed it up.
As Nurse explains in his new biography “Rapture,” he and Bjorkgren spent a summer together “drawing up plays in my basement.” The basic goal was just to make it, whatever “it” entailed as D-League coaches back in 2013. The stretch goal, though, was to be replicating their D-League partnership-turned-rivalry at the NBA level.
Theirs is a story of friendship spanning decades. When Nurse was as an assistant coach at the University of South Dakota, Bjorkgren was the team’s freshman point guard. A fellow Iowa native, Bjorkgren had watched Nurse win a state championship a few years prior. Eventually, Nurse would be tasked with coaching the fledgling Iowa Energy of the D League, and Bjorkgren, coaching high school basketball in Arizona by then, called looking to make a jump. The rest is unlikely history, with Bjorkgren and Nurse winning a D-League title together in 2011 and then squaring off in the 2013 D-League Finals.
“You know what, Nate?” Nurse recalls saying in his book. “I think you and I could both do this at a higher level.”