Musings from the sports desk: A unique NBA connection sets up bright future
By BRANDON HURLEY
Try this one out on your next trivia night with the crew.
What Iowa legend has played with both Nick Nurse, the newest NBA coach and eight-time NBA champion Steve Kerr (Five titles as a player, three as a coach)?
I’ll give you a hint - he’s from Carroll.
Still haven’t figured it out? Well, he also starred on Kuemper Catholic’s only boys basketball state championship team in 1985.
He’s the six-foot-nine sweet shooting Brian David.
Yep, the NBA connections continue to grow even stronger for the Herald Publishing area.
It also brings to light a parallel that suggests Nurse may be in line for some big things come next summer as the Toronto Raptors head coach. Hear me out, Kerr and Nurse are more closely connected than you might think, and it could suggest a huge first year for the NBA’s newest head coach.
David, the former KHS all-time leading scorer, starred alongside Nurse on that 85’ team that cruised to a 3A title and eventually went off to play at the University of Arizona, where Kerr was a blossoming sharp-shooter.
Though David’s college career was marred by injuries, he still had several years to muck it up with the NBA’s hottest coaching commodity.
In fact, Kerr and Wildcat legend Sean Elliot led Arizona on a triumphant run to the NCAA Final Four in 1988, which David was apart of.
Kerr has become one the NBA’s most outspoken and politically driven coaches in the league while at the helm of the Golden State Warriors, and for good measure. You’re allowed some leeway if you’ve won championships in three of your first four years as a head coach.
Even during his playing days in Tuscon, David saw Kerr’s competitiveness shine. He was laid back and open, but his passion is what really stood out behind closed doors.
“Steve was a great player, he was easy going, happy go lucky,” David said. “A great, great guy, that persona you see (on TV) is exactly who he is.
A lot that people didn’t see is that desire, that’s what people didn’t see. That fire.”
Like Nurse, David’s long time high school buddy, Kerr was a point guard throughout his career. David feels it foreshadowed his success on the sidelines.
“He understood the game. Back then, he had to in order to be successful. He knew the game,” David said. “(Point guards), they get it, they are the coach on the floor, and I think that’s why it translates so well to coaching.”
Though there are some similar parallels to Kerr’s career and Nurse, they aren’t exactly carbon copies. Yes, they both excelled in college and high school, and have won everywhere they’ve gone, but Kerr also held a front office position with the Phoenix Suns and was a well-known broadcaster before making the leap into coaching.
Nurse had to grind the old-fashioned, less notable way. Taking jobs overseas, battling through the D League and latching on as an assistant. Regardless, they both are at the top of their professions, even if it takes a bit to see how great Nurse really can be. But if we want to keep the comparisons going, Nurse takes over an already supremely talented and successful team, just like Kerr did when Mark Jackson was fired by the Warriors a few years back. It didn’t take Kerr long to win the title, heck, he won it his first year. Nurse is an innovative mind, touting a revolutionary offense, while Kerr opened up the Warrior offense when he took the reins. And both are very open and speak easily and freely with the media, when given the chance, of course.
Frankly, the two could be more closer aligned than we think?
Of course, take that with a grain of salt, David says.
“We have to give Nick some time, as a head coach he can put his imprint on the team,” the former Knight said. “Until he has that opportunity, there’s not much to compare the two with.”
For one thing, this sportswriter is itching with excitement for the 2018-19 NBA season to start, expecting big things from the Herald Publishing area’s brightest light.