Toronto Raptors fire head coach Nick Nurse, who led team to 2019 championship

The Toronto Raptors fired head coach Nick Nurse on Friday.

Nurse, 55, led the Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship in 2019.

He spent the past decade with the franchise, including five years as an assistant coach and five as head coach.

Raptors president and vice-chairman Masai Ujiri said the decision to fire Nurse provides a chance to “reset” and “refocus.”

“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,” Ujiri said. 

Nurse was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2020.

He has also served as head coach of Canada’s national men’s basketball team since 2019, and he signed a contract extension to continue in the role through the 2024 Paris Olympics in August 2021.

Nurse guided the Raptors a 48-34 record in the 2021-22 season before they 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.

WATCH | Raptors collapse in elimination loss to Bulls:

Bulls rally in play-in tournament to end season for Raptors

Toronto’s season is over with a 109-105 loss to Chicago in their single elimination play-in game. Zach LaVine scored 30 of his 39 points in the second half while former Raptor DeMar DeRozan added 23. Pascal Siakam had a chance to tie the game with 12 seconds remaining but missed two of his three free throws.

Nurse exits with the best winning percentage in franchise history at .582, with 227 wins to 163 losses.

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.

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