Nurse, who led Toronto to its first title of its rookie season last year, was a runaway winner and received 90 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sports journalists and broadcasters.
Lake Buena Vista: Nick Nurse was named NBA Coach of the Year on Saturday after leading defending champions Toronto Raptors to another 50-win season, this time without Kawhi Leonard.
Nurse, who got the Raptors close to the second round of the playoffs, was a runaway winner and received 90 first-place votes from a jury of 100 sports journalists and broadcasters. He finished with 470 points.
Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer finished second after beating the Bucks to their best record of the suspended season with 147 points. Billy Donovan (134) from Oklahoma City finished third.
Nurse led Toronto to its first rookie season title last year and became the only coach to win an NBA championship and a G League championship. He won titles in the NBA minor league in 2011 and 2013.
Toronto’s celebration last year was just coming to an end when Leonard decided to join the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Raptors barely missed a beat without the NBA Finals MVP, hitting a 53:19 record and number 2 in the Eastern Conference. They have a 3-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets and will try to finish the sweep on Sunday.
Nurse is 111-43 in two seasons. He more than confirmed the Raptors’ decision to fire Dwane Casey in 2018, despite Casey having been Coach of the Year that season after leading Toronto to a 59-23 record.
But the Raptors were repeatedly overrun by LeBron James and Cleveland in the playoffs. So team president Masai Ujiri decided to part with Casey, the career leader of the Siegen franchise, and promote Nurse, who had been an assistant for five years.
Nurse has almost caught Casey 19-8 for the Raptors’ record in playoff wins in the last two seasons. Casey was 21-30 years old.
Ujiri praised the nurse for being hardworking yet relaxed
“Always set the tone for our team – attacking our next championship instead of defending our last,” said Ujiri. “This is Nick, that’s why we believe in him. His journey to this enormous honor has been a long one. We are very happy that he was recognized like this.”
The nurse worked her way up through lower basketball levels. The Northern Iowa graduate got his first job as a head coach at Grand View College at the age of 23 before becoming an assistant in South Dakota.
He coached Europe for 11 years and won nine British Basketball League championships before taking Rio Grande Valley and Iowa to G League titles.
Nurse finally came out as the NBA head coach in 2018 and he was a natural.
He led the Raptors past the popular Bucks and Golden State Warriors last spring, then overcame Leonard’s departure, the season’s suspension, and everything in between.
Toronto had a franchise record of 0.736 percent profit this season, which allowed for the fewest points per game in the NBA, despite the top five goalscorers missing at least 10 games due to injury.
The Raptors put together a winning streak of 15 games in January and February, and when the season ended a month later, Toronto came back even better. The Raptors went 7-1 in the seeding games, best in the east.
Nurse joined Casey and Sam Mitchell as Raptors trainers to win the award.
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