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From British Basketball beginnings to NBA triumph

History was made in the States on many fronts last night – the unfancied Toronto Raptors won a significant game of basketball and in the process made Nick Nurse the very first former British Basketball League (BBL) coach to go on to become a NBA Finals champion.

The former two-time BBL Coach of the Year led his Toronto Raptors to a 4-2 series win over Golden State Warriors to capture the coveted Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, the first in Toronto’s history.

Nurse successfully steered The Raptors to secure the biggest prize in club basketball and much of his coaching craft, which enabled such a feat, could be credited to his formative time spent honing his skills on these shores with the BBL.

Iowa-born Nurse’s history with the BBL, which spanned close to a dozen seasons, was a successful and distinguished one.

It began in 1990 when he was both player and coach for the Derby Rams. After ending his playing career he would focus solely as a Head Coach, moving to Birmingham Bullets in 1995 where in his first season he saw the club become BBL Play-Off champions.

After coaching one final season for the Bullets, Nurse then moved on to coach the Manchester Giants in 1998-99. Again, in his debut season for the club he took them to a BBL Trophy Final victory and runner-up of the BBL Championship.

The following season would prove to be Nurse’s most successful year in the league, as he took Manchester Giants on to win the BBL Championship and Play-Offs, runners-up in the Trophy and Cup, and was crowned BBL Coach of the Year.

Nurse then moved to the capital to coach London Towers in which he saw them crowned BBL Championship winners and then moved onto Brighton Bears where he stayed for the remainder of his time in the BBL.

Over the course of four seasons with the Bears, he took them on to seven major BBL Final appearances, netting one Championship and two Cup trophies, and was also crowned a second-time BBL Coach of the Year during his tenure with the club.

Nurse also coached six different BBL All-Star games.

Andy Webb, BBL’s Chief Operating Officer said: “Everyone at the British Basketball League would like to congratulate Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors on their historic victory. Nick achieving NBA glory is great for the profile of basketball in this country and helps underline the quality of our league from a global perspective.”