Former two-time BBL Coach of the Year Nick Nurse will lead Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals – starting on Friday morning (UK time).
The Canadian franchise takes on Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven finale for the first time with Nurse having forged his coaching career in the BBL.
Nurse led Manchester Giants to the Play-Offs title in the 1999-00 season after picking up his first Coach of the Year award before re-claiming the accolade following a BBL Championship triumph with Brighton Bears in 2003-04.
He began his coaching career in the BBL as a player-coach with Derby Rams in the 1990-91 season, averaging 20.1 points per game and would go onto coach over 400 league games with spells at Birmingham Bullets and London Towers, also.
Nurse was also previously an assistant coach for GB’s Senior Men – under Chris Finch, current associate head coach at New Orleans Pelicans – culminating in the 2012 Olympics.
The Raptors links to British Basketball do not end there with London-born OG Anunoby in his second season, while assistant coach Phil Handy previously played under Nurse at Manchester Giants in the 1999-00 season and earlier, president Masai Ujiri played 11 games with Derby Storm in the 1996-97 season before a short spell with Watford Royals the following season.
List of trophies won by Nurse in the BBL:
1996 Play-Offs – Birmingham Bullets
1999 Trophy – Manchester Giants
1999-2000 Northern Conference – Manchester Giants
2000 Play-Offs – Manchester Giants
2000-2001 Southern Conference – London Towers
2003 National Cup – Brighton Bears
2003-04 BBL Championship – Brighton Bears
2005 BBL Cup – Brighton Bears