DETROIT – As a member of Dwane Casey’s coaching staff, Nick Nurse worked the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. His favorite part?
“The weather,” Nurse said.
The Raptors coach will have a whole new experience when he returns to All-Star Weekend this year – in Chicago.
Nurse will coach Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s team in the All-Star Game on Feb 16. The honor comes because Toronto clinched the Eastern Conference’s best record through Sunday outside Milwaukee. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is ineligible to coach the All-Star Game, because he did it last year.
Beyond Antetokounmpo, Nurse’s roster will be determined by Antetokounmpo and LeBron James drafting All-Stars. Nurse could wind up coaching – or coaching against – two of his players, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry. Of course, the Raptors might hope Nurse hits it off with the one player guaranteed to be on his team.
After a long coaching journey to that point, Nurse has risen quickly since 2018.
“I don’t want to sound like a little kid or anything, but it was like the first time I’ve really been around it with all the mega, mega stars,” Nurse said. “I hadn’t been in the league all that long. I mean, I did a couple as a D-League coach. And got to kind of cross paths with the NBA guys when we were coming off the practice floor and they were coming on. And that as cool to us. Nate and I were going, ‘Oh my god, that was LeBron James!’ Now, you’re trying to devise plans to beat those guys.”
Nurse has done better than just try. He helped befuddle the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals, guiding the Raptors to the championship.
This season, Nurse has picked up where he left off. He’s my early pick for Coach of the Year.