TORONTO — Nick Nurse says he’s “fine” with the way his tenure with the Raptors ended, after he was let go by Toronto management following the 2022-23 season.
The head coach is back at Scotiabank Arena, this time at the helm of the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be the Raptors' opponent on Saturday night. Prior to tip-off, Nurse took the time pre-game to briefly look back on his tenure with the franchise.
“No, I’m fine, it ended the way it ended,” Nurse said when asked if he was disappointed with how his time concluded.
When asked if he was surprised:
“I don't think so. It could have went either way, probably play a little better, playoffs or play in or whatever. Like I said, when I left, many times, it felt like it was time, probably for both sides. Still feels that way to me. Just look around, and I look at them play and they look like they're playing great. And I really enjoy coaching this team, you know. Everyone is where they're supposed to be.”
The former Coach of the Year is most prominently known for helping the Raptors secure their first championship in franchise history in 2019, which marked his first year as a head coach after five years as an assistant.
He was let go after a controversial end to the 2022-23 season that included not making the NBA playoffs. It was a disappointing result that came a couple weeks after Nurse questioned his future with the organization — while on the road with the Raptors in Philadelphia.
On Saturday, Nurse was asked when he himself thought that it might be time for a change. He says it's something that's part of pro sports; when you go on a losing streak, it becomes part of the conversation, and then naturally gets a person thinking of their future.
"I think we could have went either way, if we would have played a little better," said Nurse, looking back on a season where the Raptors cracked an even .500, which included a stretch where they lost six in a row in December 2022.
Now that he's back in Toronto, it's brought on an unfamiliar feeling.
“Just weird in general, being here the last couple of days in the city,” said Nurse. “But it's good, good, I don't need to tell everybody how great the city is, it's fun to walk around a little bit, catch the vibe again, and all that stuff. Ten great years, lots of great memories.”