CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Nick Nurse has certainly paid his dues to be the head coach of the Toronto Raptors as they try to win their first ever NBA title. It's not only a special moment for him and the team, but also for many in the state of Iowa, including Nurse's former coaches and teammates at Northern Iowa.
"I still vision Nick playing in the driveway, as a 20-year old, with my three boys," said former UNI assistant coach Kevin Lehman. "When you see him on TV and coaching the most elite players in the world, it's just so cool to see that."
"I've watched a lot of former players coach throughout the winter time in college basketball," said former UNI head coach Eldon Miller. "I never thought I'd be watching a former player coach in the middle of June."
Nurse started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Northern Iowa. He got his first head coaching job at Grand View University when he was just 23 years old. He later spent a decade in Europe, then coached in the D-League before becoming an assistant coach for the Raptors in 2013.
"What's been amazing to me about Nick is I think one of the more difficult things to do, especially at that level, is your ability to connect with the players," said former UNI teammate and current Creighton head coach Greg McDermott.
The Raptors will face Golden State in Game 5 at 8 pm on Monday.