Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Head Coach Nick Nurse Reflects on First Game at Toronto Raptors' Helm

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Head Coach Nick Nurse Reflects on First Game at Toronto Raptors' Helm

Article excerpt

Nurse reflects on first game at Raptors helm

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TORONTO - Nick Nurse's plan for his debut as an NBA head coach included his sleep pattern.

The 51-year-old deliberately got up early for a 5:30 morning workout Tuesday, hoping it would make sleep easier on the eve of the Toronto Raptors' season-opener Wednesday night against Cleveland.

"I laid down pretty early (Tuesday) night and I was starting to go through some plays in my head while I was laying there in bed. I'm not sure I made it through one," he recalled with a laugh. "I fell asleep pretty quickly."

Score one for Nurse, who spent five years as a Raptors assistant before succeeding the fired Dwane Casey as head coach in June.

"I said it when I got hired, I said for five years I had a 1,000 people telling me I was going to be a head coach in the NBA. And when I got the job, those same 1,000 people were shocked," Nurse said, drawing laughs.

"And those same 1,000 people are really nervous tonight."

As luck would have it, his regular-season debut at the helm came against the Cavaliers, the Raptors' boogeyman. Cleveland swept the Raptors the last two playoffs.

Nurse fitted in another workout plus a nap at home Wednesday afternoon.

"It's certainly a pretty cool thing," he said of the head coaching gig. "But again I hope it's kind of just the beginning, so I don't want to sit here and make this too big a deal."

He said the season opener was a time "to be thankful for the journey."

"I don't think when I decided I didn't want to be an accountant any more that I was necessarily saying I wanted to be an NBA head coach. I just really wanted to figure out if I could do it."

Nurse's path to NBA head coach took him from the college ranks to the British Basketball League and NBA G League.

A native of Carroll, Iowa, he played collegiate basketball at Northern Iowa and stayed on as an assistant coach during the 1989-90 season. He said he changed career goals during his junior year, knowing he wasn't going to play in the NBA. …

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