Nicholas David Nurse (born July 24, 1967) is an American professional basketball coach and former player who is the head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He previously served as head coach for the Toronto Raptors, whom he led to an NBA championship in 2019 and with whom he was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2020.
Born in Carroll, Iowa, Nurse played at the University of Northern Iowa from 1985 to 1989, appearing in 111 games. He is the school's all-time three-point percentage leader at .468 (170 of 363). While playing at University of Northern Iowa, he was a teammate of current Division I college coach Greg McDermott. During their successful 1989–90 season, Nurse was the sole student assistant coach for Northern Iowa in his final year with the team. Nurse graduated from Northern Iowa in May 1990 with a B.A. in accounting.
In 1991, Nurse got his first full-time head coaching job at Grand View University when he was only 23 years old; at the time, he was the youngest college basketball head coach in the country. He coached at Grand View for two seasons before taking on an assistant coaching role at the University of South Dakota for two seasons.
Nurse later spent 11 seasons coaching in Europe, mostly in the British Basketball League (BBL). During that time, he won two BBL championships as a head coach, one with the Birmingham Bullets in 1996 and one with the Manchester Giants in 2000, while also helping London Towers in the Euroleague. Nurse also won the BBL Coach of the Year Award in the 1999–2000 and 2003–04 seasons. He also coached for the Telindus Oostende of the Ethias League in 1998, as well as became an assistant coach for the Oklahoma Storm of the United States Basketball League in both 2001 and 2005.
In 2007, Nurse accepted the head coaching job for the Iowa Energy, who were preparing for their first season in the NBA D-League (now called the NBA G League). The Energy won division titles under Nurse in the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons.
After three seasons with the Energy, Nurse agreed to join the coaching staff of the Iowa State Cyclones as an associate head coach in April 2010. Four days after Nurse's hiring was announced on April 22, Greg McDermott left to become the head coach at Creighton. Nurse was not offered a spot on the new staff, but received $175,000 in a settlement for his four days as an assistant.
In July 2013, Nurse departed the Vipers for an assistant job on the coaching staff of the Toronto Raptors under Dwane Casey. He was in charge of the offense during his time under Casey, and in the 2017–18 season he was credited for changes to the Raptors' offensive game plan which included increases in passing and three-point attempts. The improved offense helped the Raptors win a franchise-record 59 games, but the team was swept in the second round of the 2018 NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Casey was fired shortly thereafter.
On June 14, 2018, the Raptors promoted Nurse to the position of head coach to succeed Casey. In his first season, he guided the Raptors to a 58–24 record, led by offseason acquisition (and eventual Finals MVP) Kawhi Leonard and emerging star Pascal Siakam, who would go on to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award. On May 25, 2019, Nurse coached the Raptors to the 2019 NBA Finals, the first for the franchise, after taking the Eastern Conference Championship by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in six games. On June 13, Nurse became the first head coach to win both the NBA and NBA D-League/G League titles, when the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 6 of the NBA Finals, winning the Raptors their first championship in franchise history.
In December 2018, Nurse's mother Marcella died.
Nurse is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and was a guest conductor of the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field in 2019, singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
On June 20, 2019, Nurse joined Hamilton-based rock band Arkells at their sold-out Toronto concert to perform a cover of Stevie Wonder's hit song "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" on guitar.
On June 24, 2019, Nurse was named the head coach of the Canadian men's national team for the 2019 FIBA World Cup and beyond. On June 27, 2023, Nurse resigned from his role as national team head coach.
In Nurse's second season, the Raptors finished with a 53–19 record, despite losing Leonard to free agency, in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. He was widely praised for his creativity and innovation in ensuring that the Raptors were able to maintain a high level of play despite losing Leonard. That season, Nurse qualified to be a head coach in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game as the Eastern Conference representative. On August 22, 2020, Nurse was named NBA Coach of the Year. However, the Raptors were unable to repeat their playoff success of the previous season, and were eliminated in the conference semifinals, losing in 7 games at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
On September 15, 2020, the Raptors announced that Nurse had signed a multi-year contract extension. After an unsuccessful 2020–21 season in which the Raptors played in Tampa Bay due to COVID-19, Nurse guided the team to 48 wins and a return to the playoffs in 2022.
In May 2022, after completing his dissertation and comprehensive exam, Nurse graduated from Concordia University Chicago with a Ph.D. in Sports Leadership.
Nurse is a big fan of the musician Prince, and was the master of ceremonies at a performance by the New Power Generation in Toronto on July 26, 2022.
On April 21, 2023, the Raptors announced that they had fired Nurse, after the team failed to make the playoffs due to their loss to the Chicago Bulls in the Play-in Tournament.
On June 1, 2023, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that Nurse had been hired as their head coach.