LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season on Saturday afternoon.
Nurse, who led the Raptors to the NBA championship last season, received 90 of the 100 first-place votes from a panel of media members. He guided Toronto to a second-place finish in the Eastern Conference for a second straight season despite the departure of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in free agency.
“When you see Nick on the sidelines, that’s who he is as a person. Relaxed, but so hard-working. creative and dynamic. Always setting the tone for our team — attacking our next championship, rather than defending our last,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “That is who Nick is, that is why we believe in him. His journey to this tremendous honour has been a long one. We are so happy to see him recognized this way.”
Nurse, who led the Raptors to a franchise-record .736 winning percentage during the regular season, was followed in the voting by Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, last year’s winner, and Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan, who recently were named the co-winners of the National Basketball Coaches Association’s coach of the year award. He becomes the third Raptors coach to win the award, following Dwane Casey (2017-18) and Sam Mitchell (2006-07).
Nurse, 53, took a long, winding road to the NBA, spending several years coaching in England and the NBA’s G League before becoming an assistant with the Raptors in 2013, a job he held for five seasons before succeeding Casey in 2018.
Toronto can close out a sweep of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs with a victory Sunday night here inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the tumult it has caused to the NBA’s calendar, it caused the league to again change how it hands out its awards.
Unlike the past couple of years, when the NBA has announced its award winners in a televised awards show in late June, this year the league has shifted back to its old format of announcing award winners throughout the playoffs.