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Toronto Raptors fire head coach Nick Nurse

Nurse had the best winning percentage in team history with a 227-163 record
Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse directs his team against the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 6, 2023, in Denver. The Raptors have fired head coach Nurse. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/David Zalubowski

The Toronto Raptors have fired head coach Nick Nurse, the team announced on Friday.

Nurse joined the Raptors organization in 2013 as an assistant coach before being named the ninth head coach in team history in June 2018.

He guided the Raptors to their first NBA title the following year. Toronto defeated the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks before topping the Golden State Warriors in the final.

Nurse, 55, was named the league’s coach of the year after Toronto posted a 53-19 mark in the 2019-20 season.

“The decision to make a change like this is never arrived at easily or taken lightly, especially when it comes to a person who has been an integral part of this franchise’s most historic accomplishments, and who has been a steady leader through some of our team’s most challenging times,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a release.

“This is an opportunity for us to reset, to refocus, to put into place the personnel and the players who will help us reach our goal of winning our next championship.”

In five seasons as head coach, Nurse had the best winning percentage in team history with a 227-163 record.

The team were 48-34 in the 2021-22 season and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers.

However, the Raptors failed to return to the playoffs this season after finishing ninth in the East with a 41-41 record and losing to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA play-in tournament.

A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Nurse came to the NBA after several successful years in the NBA G League. He led Rio Grande Valley to a league championship in 2013, two years after guiding Iowa to a title.

Nurse was 23 when he became head coach of Grand View College, making him the youngest college basketball coach in the U.S.

He spent 11 seasons as a head coach in the British Basketball League with the Birmingham Bullets (1995-96), Manchester Giants (1998-2000), London Towers (2000-01) and Brighton Bears (2000-06). Nurse won league titles with Birmingham in 1996 and in 2000 with the Giants.

Nurse succeeded Dwane Casey to become the ninth Raptors head coach in franchise history. Casey was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs.

Nurse has served as head coach of the Canadian national team since June 2019. He signed a contract extension two years later that runs through the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Canadian men haven’t played in the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.

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