BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Steve Nash is only the second Canadian to become an NBA head coach, but the Hall of Famer is just proud to be part of the northern pipeline that's helping stock NBA rosters and coaching staffs.
"It’s not like I said I had to be the second coach from Canada. I’m proud of Jay Triano, who was my Olympic coach and our first coach" Nash said. Triano became Canada's first head coach with Toronto in 2008.
Nash and the Brooklyn Nets hosted the Raptors on Friday, and shortly before tipoff the rookie head coach talked about the impact Canada's lone NBA team has had on the game.
"I'm proud of all the growth that the national team program and basketball in general has had in Canada, in large part due to the Raptors," Nash said. "Just to be a part of that fabric is important to me and a source of pride.
"I’ve gotten a lot of joy out of seeing the success of so many others, whether it’s Jay or any of the other (assistant) coaches who have made their way to the NBA, and obviously the amount of players we now have in the NBA. It’s cool to see Canada have such a growing impact on the game."
Nash and Nick Nurse go back to the late 1990s, when Nurse was coaching the Manchester Giants of the British league. Nash was overseas visiting his brother Martin, who was playing soccer for Bolton, and joined Nurse's team for some practices.
"To watch his career evolve has been amazing," Nash said of Nurse, who earned coach of the year after guiding the Raptors to an NBA title.
"He’s a brilliant basketball coach. To come from that side of the basketball world is incredible and a great story. To see him reach the mountain top in 2019 was incredible."
The admiration is mutual.
"Obviously he's done a really good job," Nurse said of the 46-year-old Nash. "And he's a great basketball mind, as you know. I think he's got incredible temperament. You know, 20 games into your coaching career, he's doing a hell of a job."
The Nets were 14-9 and boasted the league's highest-scoring offence heading into Friday's game against Toronto.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2021.
The Canadian Press