STACKING PAPER: Nurse reportedly inks $8 million per year contract extension
By BRANDON HURLEY
International glory can do wonderful things for financial security.
Though Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was already firmly entrenched in the Carroll record books, his latest career milestone solidifies him for eternity.
The NBA champion and 2019-20 coach of the year recently signed a multi-year contract worth $8 million, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday, Sept. 21.
Nurse officially finalized his contract extension with the Toronto Raptors organization Sept. 15. The specifics trickled out a couple of days later, just a few weeks following the Raptors season-ending Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Nurse’s hard-work is clearly paying off, quite literally.
The only coach in league history to capture a D League title, an international title and an NBA championship has won 111 games in just two seasons as an NBA head coach. He is the ninth kid of long-time Carroll residents Maury and Marcella Nurse, the latter of whom was born on a humble, family farm near Churdan. That farm was where Nick spent parts of his championship honeymoon last summer, basking in his late mother’s memory.
His mom would certainly be proud today.
The University of Northern Iowa’s most efficient three-point shooter becomes the highest-paid Iowa native to ever coach in the NBA, by a landslide. Both Fred Hoiberg - an Ames High graduate and Iowa State legend - and Terry Stotts - Portland Trail Blazers head coach and Cedar Falls native - made $5 million per year at their peaks. Hoiberg was fired by the Chicago Bulls after four and one-third seasons in 2019 while Stotts is currently making $5 million in his eighth year with Portland. Hoiberg bounced back rather nicely and is making $2.5 million per year as the University of Nebraska head coach. Stotts has led the Blazers to the playoffs for six straight years, capped by a trip to the conference finals in 2019, He may soon climb closer to Nurse’s salary after having won more than 400 career games as the fourth-longest tenured coach in the NBA.
Nurse is now the fifth-highest paid coach in the entire league, joining an elite group who have all won NBA championships. The former Kuemper Catholic Knight is only behind five-time champion and San Antonio head coach Greg Poppovich ($11M), LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers ($10M), three-time NBA champion Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors ($9.5M) and Miami’s Erik Spolestra, who is making $8.5 million per year. Nurse is tied with one-time champion Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks at $8 million per.
The numbers get even wilder when spread across all the major North American sports. Nurse is tied for the 15th-largest annual coaching salary in the whole continent, which includes the NFL, college football, the MLB, college basketball and the NHL.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has won five Super Bowls, is being paid an estimated $12 million a year to execute his weekly chess moves on the gridiron. He’s a fat stack ahead of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, also of the NFL world, who sits at $11 million a season.
Nurse is making the same amount of money per year as Super Bowl champions Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) while he’s ahead of Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.
For reference, University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz is the highest-paid public employee in the state of Iowa, pulling in a massive $5.5 million per year (according to the Burlington Hawkeye). Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell made $2.65 million last fall, the second-highest amount of any state employee. Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery is third at $2.18 million while Cyclone basketball coach Steve Prohm is a shade below at $2.15 million per year.
The highest-paid non-sports figure in Iowa last year was University of Iowa surgeon and assistant professor Andrew Pugely, who rolled in $1.38 million.
Once the next NBA season starts, whenever that may be (we are currently in the midst of the 2020 conference finals… it’s September), Nurse will make a whopping $97,560.98 per game during an 82-game slate. Not bad, not bad at all.
And of course, like most coaching contracts these days, Nurse will likely receive extra kick-backs for specific milestones, such as playoff wins, amount of victories and Finals appearances. Nurse’s incredible rookie year in which he led the Raptors to their first NBA championship, becoming the first-ever international champions in league history in the process, was followed up by a nearly as impressive sophomore campaign. Nurse won the 2019-20 coach of the year award after guiding Toronto to the second-best regular-season record, the best winning percentage in franchise history before falling one win short of back-to-back trips to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Our confidence in Nick just continues to grow, and part of that comes from what we’ve experienced together. The past two seasons have been unlike any other in our team’s history – first, winning our championship, and then navigating a global pandemic and committing long-term to the fight against racism and for social justice,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement following Nurse’s extension last week. “Nick has proved that he can coach on the court and lead in life, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing great things in the future.”
Despite his impressive accolades and expanding bankroll, Nurse is far from the richest person from Iowa. That title belongs to Harry Stine, owner of Stine Seed in Adel. It’ll be a tough task for anyone to catch up to the Adel resident, who’s valued at more than $3 billion, according to Forbes. Stine is the only Iowa to crack the top 400 richest list this year.
Though Nurse is not the highest-paid Iowan in sports either, he does burst his way into a rare group. A handful of NBA and NFL building blocks help maintain Iowa’s place in the professional ranks. Ames High grad and Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes is currently making an incredible $26.3 million per year as part of a four-year, $94 million contract he signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016 (per Forbes). Nurse is ahead of another Ames High graduate, Pacers sharpshooter Doug McDermott. The son of former ISU basketball coach and current Creighton lead man Greg McDermott is making $7.3 million per year as part of a three-year, $22 million contract with Indiana.
Several corn-fed residents are making a financial splash in the NFL as well.
Mount Vernon native and Tampa Bay rookie Tristan Wirfs is guaranteed $16.23 million over the next four years (per the Daily Iowan). Denison born and bred Brandon Scherff, an offensive lineman with the Washington Football Team, is due $15 million during the 2020 season (Spotrac.com). Chariton graduate and Iowa All-American tight end T.J. Hockenson signed a four-year, $19.8 million rookie contract last year after getting drafted by the Detroit Lions eighth overall in the 2019 draft. Hockenson is just a shade under $4 million a year, per Over The Cap.com.
Even the fringe sports have helped boost Iowa’s bankroll. Cedar Rapids native and Drake University graduate Zach Johnson has made his fair share of dough on the PGA Tour. Johnson, who is somehow already 44 years old, is ranked 13th all-time in career earnings, having secured a spectacular $46.2 million.
Needless to say, Nurse has joined some rare and prestigious company among the various throngs of successful Iowans.
Imagine the things any regular person can buy thriving on $8 million per year. I’m sure the eccentric Nurse can think of a few things.
Let’s start with anyone’s pipe dream - a Lamborghini averages right around $200,000 - it’s a pretty cool car, just saying.
But, Nurse isn’t a one-track kind of guy. And who really knows if he’s into expensive cars. What we do know is how transfixed Nurse is by music. He’s notorious for bringing a guitar along on road trips, having self-taught how to maneuver through the intricacies of the world’s most famous instrument. He’s also a master on the piano, earning a Harvard degree in blues, learning how to play the classical genre on the grand piano. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see Nurse splurge on some type of musical memorabilia.
The world’s most expensive guitar belonged to Bryan Adams back in 2015. He sold the “Reach out to Asia” Fender Stratocaster for $2.7 million in an effort to raise money for Asian earthquake and tsunami victims (per Wealthygorilla.com). The guitar was signed by a spectacular number of talented musicians, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, to name a few. More in Nurse’s wheelhouse and fitting better into his budget is Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” guitar, which sold for $959,000 in 2004 (per wealthygorilla.com).
Piano’s really ratchet up in price when the search gets deep. The piano in “Casablanca” is worth $625,000, and that’s merely because the instrument is in poor shape (Money Inc). John Lennon’s basic Steinway Model Z piano is an incredibly massive $2.37 million. It’s rumored that the Beatles icon wrote the song “Imagine” thanks to the use of this legendary piano (per Money Inc).
When not dissecting game film or slipping into the inspiring realm of music, Nurse likes to step away from it all and dive into a nice book. He carried two specific books around during his time coaching in Britain in the 1990s as if they were his own personal bibles. He pulled ridiculous amounts of knowledge from Sacred Hoops by Hall of Famer Phil Jackson and Freedom in the Huddle by former UNI football coach, Darryl Mudra.
Book collections are a rare and special breed. Nurse may soon begin growing his home library, especially with the funds he has at his disposal.
There’s a perfect little piece of history that costs quite the pretty penny if Nurse felt inclined. The original book of basketball rules, authored by the sport inventor himself, James Naismith, sold for an astounding $4.3 million in 2010. The original copy was written all the way back in 1891, composed on two 10-by-8 inch pieces of paper. Hell, Nurse’s most coveted book, the aforementioned Freedom in the Huddle, is selling for $61 on Amazon. That’s a fairly expensive price for a book written by a former Cedar Falls football coach.
Regardless, Nurse has a decent amount of options now that he’s rolling in the cash. He’ll likely spend it on his family, though. He’s a father of three children and has a lovely wife to come home to at night. Toronto is an equally as beautiful city, there could be much worse places to become a multi-millionaire.
And hey, maybe more titles will come with the extra money.
It’s been a ride and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.