A perennial playoff team in the NBA has just hired an Iowa native as their head coach. More than just a native to the Hawkeye State, his Iowa roots run deep.

Carroll, IA native Nick Nurse was hired as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers last week. Nurse rose in the NBA stratosphere as assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors from 2013-18 before accepting the job as head coach of the Raptors in 2018. In his first season, he guided Toronto to their first NBA championship with a team led by star player Kawhi Leonard.

But none of that would've happened for Nurse it hadn't been for Iowa.

Nurse grew up in Carroll and attended the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) from 1985 to 1989. He still holds the university's record as all-time three-point percentage leader at .468. From there, he spent time in the British Basketball League, but eventually made his way back to Iowa in 2007 as head coach of the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League (presently known as the Iowa Wolves of the NBA G League) from 2007 to 2011.

Nurse spent a combined six seasons as a G League head coach between his time with the Energy and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2011-13). He compiled a regular-season record of 183-117 over the two stints, and remains the only coach to lead two different teams to an NBA G League Championship.

Photo Credit: Tim Nwachukwu, Getty Images
Photo Credit: Tim Nwachukwu, Getty Images

Had it not been for head coach Greg McDermott bolting for Creighton in 2010, Nurse would've served as an associate head coach on his staff at Iowa State University. When plans fell through, he returned to the Energy.

Now, Nurse joins a 76ers team that has been a perennial playoff team for the last several years. However, after another disappointing elimination by the Boston Celtics in seven games this season, the pressure is on this iteration of the Sixers to win and win big. Nurse will have his hands full trying to run an offense around the team's star Joel Embiid, and be behind the decision of whether or not to bring James Harden back for another season.

Like in Toronto, Nurse's experience as an Iowa-born player and coach will likely guide him as the new leader of the 76ers.


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