Iowa celebration for NBA championship coach Nick Nurse starts with governor’s proclamation

Wild Rose Jefferson hosts Nick Nurse's Journey from Carroll to Toronto

JEFFERSON – Governor Kim Reynolds will present a proclamation celebrating Iowa native, Nick Nurse, and his NBA championship on Sunday, June 30, at the Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson. 

After watching Nurse and the Toronto Raptors seal the championship in Game 6 on June 13,  Gary and Sue Kirke went to work planning a welcome home celebration for the Carroll native. Gary Kirke knows the championship coach from his investment in the Iowa Energy, while Sue Kirke was a classmate of Nurse’s at Carroll Kuemper where Nurse led the school’s basketball team. 

The Kirkes are hosting a hero’s welcome home celebrating: “Nick Nurse’s Journey from Carroll to Toronto.”  The event is free, open to the public and will be held in the Greene Room at Wild Rose Jefferson. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the program, emceed by “Voice of the Hawkeyes” Gary Dolphin, starts at 6 p.m. 

The program features a catalogue of speakers going back to Nurse’s days at Carroll Kuemper, through his own collegiate playing career at the University of Northern Iowa and his rise from a college assistant to head coach of the Toronto Raptors. 

Jerry Crawford, founder of the Iowa Energy, will be at the podium to honor Nurse along with Kuemper High School coach Wayne Chandlee, high school teammate and friend Frank Molak, sports writer and college roommate Mike Finger, ESPN basketball analyst Kevin Lehman, coaching colleague Steve Forbes, friend and fellow coach Orv Salmon, and University of Iowa standout Bobby Hansen. 

Nurse has been coaching since 1989. After serving as an assistant coach for UNI, Nurse moved across the pond in 1990 to be a player-coach for the Derby Storm in the British Basketball League. He returned to the U.S. to be an assistant coach with Grand View University. After two years, he left to be an assistant for the University of South Dakota.

In 1995, Nurse headed back to the United Kingdom where he stayed for more than 10 years working for five different teams before moving to Des Moines to lead the Iowa Energy. Nurse won the D-League championship in front of the highest community attendance in the league. Then he moved to Texas to lead the Rio Grande Vipers, which had finished second to the Energy. With the Vipers, Nurse won his second D-League championship before being hired by the Toronto Raptors as an assistant coach. He was made head coach of the Raptors in June 2018.


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