Canada basketball
Nick Nurse

Nick Nurse: Our path to the Paris 2024 Olympics

Hello Canada,

I’d like to start off by saying thank you: Thank you for your support of Canada Basketball, and of our Senior Men’s National Team.  It’s the passion and dedication of fans like you that is helping to take the game of basketball here in Canada to new heights.

I’m so pleased that I’m going to continue to be part of the team for years to come.

Our road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games has already begun. It’s our focus. My staff and I, with the support of the incredible staff here at Canada Basketball, are working to assemble a team that can take us to the podium.

One of the biggest lessons that came out of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria this past June is just how important the process of selecting the group of 12 committed players is.

Just look at the blueprint of any successful sports team or organization and you’ll see it. Starting at the very top, the President and General Manger are good leaders, solid pillars who set the culture and the vision for a program. The coaching staff is there next, building on that team identity year after year. As the head coach of this program, with Paris 2024 in front of us, my first and biggest task immediately at hand is to begin to build that kind of continuity in Canada.

We believe that to get where we are going we need to lay out a three-year commitment -- from today to Paris 2024 -- and players need to decide that yes, they are in. We need to lay out what’s waiting on the other side, and how we’ll invest in their journey. This is what we’re truly after here, because this is one of the lessons we’ve learned time and again. I think everyone sees it clearly, including those of you reading these words now.

Another lesson learned is that chemistry, camaraderie and continuity can - and often will - trump talent. Keeping a core group of players together is crucial. Accomplishing this is the key to getting where we want this program to be and to me, it is also a sign of immense respect for all of those countries and players that do it year after year. This is why we’re doing it.

And if you’ve gotten this far and you’re wondering why me, a guy from Carroll, Iowa, cares so much about the fate of basketball in Canada, well I need you to know this.

I’ve had a few stops between Iowa and Toronto, where I first joined the Raptors organization as an assistant nine years ago. Serving as an assistant coach for Great Britain’s Senior Men’s National Team in over five summers leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London gave me a great respect for FIBA basketball. I’ve coached at probably every club level in the Euro league and spent time in the Northern European Basketball League. I’ve done the global basketball grind.

So it feels GOOD to have a place you can call home and that’s what Toronto -- and by extension, Canada -- has become for me and my family. I absolutely love this city. The fans of the national team and the Raptors have been incredible to me. One of the things I talk to the national team players about a lot is that my two youngest sons were born in Toronto. After the coaching journey I've been on, getting to stay in one place long enough to call it home is special. Getting to be part of growing something bigger than yourself there is even cooler.

I think anybody that gets to do what they love for a living has an obligation to give it everything they’ve got. To have two of the best jobs in the world at the same time? It’s humbling. I am both very honoured and humbled by it. While I have this opportunity, I want to give it my best shot.

Getting to be part of such a golden era on many fronts for the game in this country is an incredible honour. I get fired up just thinking about how much the sport has grown since my first year in Toronto in 2013 and I’m always proud when someone asks me to describe that rise.

Let’s talk about the Raptors winning the NBA Championship in 2019.

Let’s talk about the number of Canadians that are in the NBA and the number of Canadian players that are going to be legitimate stars of that league.

Let’s talk about the Canadian Senior Women’s National Team and their commitment year in and year out.

Let’s talk about the U19 Men’s National Team’s bronze medal and the U19 women placing 5th in the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup in Hungary yesterday.

Let’s talk again about another Canadian lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft in Josh Primo. And let’s talk about many potential NBA & WNBA draft picks to come in the next few years.

As the head coach of the Senior Men’s National Team, our goal is to get this team on the podium, by leveraging this golden era of ball in Canada. That’s what they hired me to do. That’s what this three-year plan is about.

That’s what I’m focused on with this program and it’s what I want you to know as you heard the news about my contract extension today. Basketball is on the rise in Canada, yes, but the most exciting part is that where we are today is really only the beginning.

This is where I thank you for your time reading and sign off so that I can get back to working on building a team you’ll be proud to support.

Canada, thank you for continuing to support us.