Toronto Raptors’ Nick Nurse was named NBA Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season on Saturday with his club still defending the crown.
Nurse, a 53-year-old American, won the award for the first time in his second season guiding the Raptors, who went 53-19 in this COVID-19 disrupted campaign, the second-best record in the league.
“Really humbled to receive the award,” Nurse said. “It’s something.
“It was quite amazing to lift up that (championship) trophy last year with those guys. That means the most. But this is cool.”
The Raptors own a 3-0 lead over Brooklyn in a best-of-seven first round NBA playoff series inside a quarantine bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and can complete a sweep into round two by winning Sunday.
Kyle Lowry, a member of last year’s championship squad, delivered the trophy to Nurse while he was on TV learning about the honor.
“Those guys are as smart and tough and competitive as it comes,” Nurse said of his players. “You don’t do it without those kind of guys.”
Nurse received 90 first-place votes and 470 total points in a media panel vote. Two-time NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of Milwaukee was second with 147 points and five first-place votes while Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan was third on 134 with four first-place votes.
Games played after the March 11 COVID-19 shutdown were not counted for purposes of NBA post-season awards.
Nurse began his coaching career as a US college assistant but spent 11 years coaching in Europe, mostly in the British Basketball League, where he guided championship teams with the Birmingham Bullets in 1996 and the Manchester Giants in 2000.