From Birmingham Bullets to NBA champion - Nurse hopes journey will 'inspire' coaches
Nick Nurse hopes his incredible journey to winning the NBA Finals with the Toronto Raptors will "inspire" other coaches.
The Raptors were crowned NBA champions for the first time on Thursday after a 114-110 triumph over the Golden State Warriors sealed a 4-2 series success.
Steve Kerr's Warriors came into the Finals looking for a third straight Larry O'Brien Trophy, but inspired by offseason trade recruit Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors upset the odds.
For Nurse, it completed one of the more unusual coaching stories, with a career that has seen him lead teams like the Birmingham Bullets, Manchester Giants, London Towers, Brighton Bears and Telindus Oostende.
He returned to North America and coached in the G League from 2007 until 2013, before spending five years as a Raptors assistant and finally landing an NBA top job with the same franchise in June 2018.
"Well, I would hope it inspires some people that are in those situations to keep working," Nurse told reporters after the famous victory at Oracle Arena.
"I always say that all those jobs meant the world to me at the time, winning with Birmingham in 1996, winning with Rio Grande Valley, whatever year that was. And those games and jobs meant the world to me and I loved all those jobs.
"I think you can't do very good work if you don't love what you're doing. I never really got discouraged. I didn't really care about the level I was coaching at, I was just trying to learn and get better. That's it."
From @BBLofficial Champion to @NBA Champion!— British Basketball League (@BBLofficial) June 14, 2019
Congratulations to former BBL Coach of the Year Nick Nurse and the @Raptors on their #NBAFinals victory. #BritishBasketball #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/NMWS3UYUNp
Nurse feels the way the beaten Warriors battled all the way through the postseason despite the injuries suffered by the likes of Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Klay Thompson will have increased the level of respect they hold around the league.
"A hundred percent," the 51-year-old said. "That was hard on them. I think they had a rough year injury-wise, and they kept playing.
"They got through some playoff rounds and guys in and out. And obviously a lot of things, a lot of bad breaks in the Finals, to be honest.
"Like us, they kept on playing. They were super-intense, high-level games and both teams desperately trying to win. I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach [Steve] Kerr and his staff and their players, for sure."