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Nick Nurse officially named head coach of Canadian men’s basketball team

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The reports and rumours had been swirling for some time now, but as of this morning it’s official: Nick Nurse will coach Team Canada’s men’s basketball squad.

NBA: Finals-Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off winning the NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, and then appearing on stage, guitar in hand, with the Arkells, good things just keep on coming up for Nick Nurse. What was reported late in May is now official, Nurse has been officially named as head coach of the Canadian men’s national basketball team.

The squad, now overseen by general manager Rowan Barrett and president/CEO Glen Grunwald, has been trying to make it back to the Olympics for almost two decades. The mission now with Nurse in tow is to get there for 2020 in Tokyo. It would be Canada’s first appearance in the Games since their storied 2000 run led by Steve Nash, who remains with the team in a senior advisor role. (As for Jay Triano, the long-time Canadian coach that Nash hired back in 2012? He gone.) With the announcement today, Nurse is committed to the team for, at minimum, that push to and through the Olympics.

Canada apparently spared no expense in their quest for a new bench boss, as the search committee is staffed by more than one familiar name.

By now, readers of this site know what they need to know about Nurse. He’s been a journeyman coach for a couple of decades, travelling through the D-League and across Europe on his way to the NBA, first as an assistant coach for the Raptors and then as their head coach. Success has followed him where he’s gone, be it in the D-League, the British Basketball League (BBL), and the NBA. And as far as international experience goes, Nurse was an assistant coach for the British national team from 2009-12, which included the 2012 London tournament. (Great Britain went 1-4 in the tourney, but still!)

Nurse will be joined on the sidelines by Gordie Herbert from Penticton, British Columbia — but really, of the world. Herbert’s long resume of international playing and coaching experience stretches all the way back to 1982, when he spent a dozen years playing ball in Finland. From there Herbert coached across the continent, in Finland, Germany, Georgia (as the national team’s head coach), France, and Greece. In case you missed it, Herbert also served as an assistant coach for the Raptors back in 2008-09. Also, it just feels right to have a Gord involved with Team Canada.

With sights set on the summer of 2020, Team Canada must now prepare for the 2019 FIBA World Cup (beginning on August 31), and, you know, actually getting the players they need to compete. This has been something of an issue over the past decade or so, with a missing piece or two always seemingly sitting out for the major qualifying tournaments. Coming out of the World Cup as one of the top two teams in the Americas grants Canada a spot in the Olympics, so Barrett’s stated goal is a big one.

Can the team’s new management, and the excitement around their star coach in Nurse, make a difference with the players? Can the groundswell of Canadian basketball talent get this country back to the world stage? Things certainly look to be trending in the right direction.