”He was a heat-seeking missi

Discuss life in Streatham Common. Talk about local restaurants, pubs, shops, services, transport, planning, it's up to you

”He was a heat-seeking missi

Postby elaine95 » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:19 am

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri hasn’t forgotten the first time he met Nick Nurse.

It was 1995 and Ujiri Derwin James Youth Jersey , now president of the Toronto Raptors, was playing for the Derby Storm of the British Basketball League. Nurse was coach of the rival Birmingham Bullets. Not yet 30, Nurse had already been on the bench for six years, quickly establishing himself as a coach on the rise.

”His teams were tough,” Ujiri said Thursday as the Raptors officially introduced Nurse as their coach. ”There was always something about the Birmingham team that was different from the whole league. People talked about them that way.”

More than two decades on from that initial introduction, Ujiri is hoping Nurse has what it takes to turn Toronto into the talk of the NBA.

The ninth head coach in Raptors history, Nurse replaces his former boss, Dwane Casey – under whom he spent the past five seasons as a Toronto assistant. Casey was fired after the Raptors were swept out of the second round of this year’s playoffs by Cleveland, their third straight playoff defeat at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavs.

Ujiri called Nurse ”everything you want in a candidate” and said his new coach, the first he has hired as an NBA executive, is someone who ”thinks the game differently.”

”He was outstanding,” Ujiri said. ”He really came out on top. Trying new stuff, being innovative, is who Nick is. You can tell he’s a tactician who really thinks the game.”

Nurse called it ”a long month” of waiting for a decision following Casey’s dismissal but said he understood why Ujiri needed to take his time.

”Even though I’ve been across the gym from him for five years Billy Price Youth Jersey , there’s a lot of detail to go through,” Nurse said.

Nurse also gave credit to Casey, who was hired as Detroit’s head coach this week.

”We shared a lot of winning together,” Nurse said. ”He’s a competitive guy, a great professional. I learned a lot from him. You can’t take away the five years we shared.”

Toronto went 59-23 this season, the best record in the Eastern Conference and second-best in the NBA behind Houston. Nurse was in charge of the offense, led by All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. He also engineered a successful overhaul of the game plan before last season as Toronto put increased emphasis on ball movement and 3-point shooting.

For the coming season, Nurse said he wants to inject more defensive creativity ”so we can try to be ready for more things in the playoffs.”

Rex Kalamian, a Raptors assistant alongside Nurse last season, is expected to join the Los Angeles Clippers, leaving Nurse multiple spots to fill on his staff. Nurse said Thursday he has a good idea of what he’s looking for.

”I think it’s really important that we get an experienced staff,” he said. ”Guys that have been head coaches at some level is important to me. It’s good to know what it’s like to be the decision maker.”

There’s also the possibility of new players, with Ujiri acknowledging Toronto has ”work to do” with its roster.

Nurse graduated from Northern Iowa and got his first head coaching position at Grand View College when he was only 23. He spent more than a decade in Europe and was an assistant coach for Britain at the 2012 London Olympics. A past G League coach of the year, he’s the only coach to lead two teams to an NBA G League Championship Derick Brassard Penguins Jersey , winning with Iowa in 2011 and Rio Grande in 2013.

Nurse’s career has seen its share of stops and opponents, but he still recalls facing Ujiri while with Birmingham.

”I remember,” Nurse said, smiling. ”He played really hard.”

The bar was set high for Brian Urlacher when he joined the Chicago Bears as a first-round middle linebacker back in 2000.

Few teams are as closely identified with one position as the Bears are at middle linebacker with players like Bill George, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary personifying the Monsters of the Midway on the way to Hall of Fame careers.

Urlacher lived up to that lofty standard and will join that talented trio in Canton when he is inducted into the hall on Saturday.

”It wasn’t even on my mind when I played,” Urlacher said after getting voted into the hall on his first try in February. ”I didn’t think this would ever be a possibility. So many things have to go right. You have to stay healthy, you have to play well, you’ve got to win some games, do some things. This is the summit of playing football right here.”

Urlacher did not make himself available for interviews leading up to inductions.

Urlacher was a different type of middle linebacker than his predecessors in Chicago, the perfect piece in the NFL of the 2000s with the speed and coverage skills that allowed him to play safety in college. That helped him match up against running backs and tight ends and roam sideline to sideline.

He also had the ability to drop deep into coverage, making him the perfect middle linebacker on coach Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense that Urlacher helped make so stout in Chicago on the way to a Super Bowl appearance following the 2006 season.

”I’ve had an opportunity to be around so many great linebackers, but some of them are just made for the position,” Smith said. ”Derrick Brooks is made to be a Will linebacker, an outside guy in our system. Brian Urlacher Malik Jefferson Jersey , you can’t draw it up any better. Everybody knew that he looked the part and he played the part.”

Smith knew about Urlacher’s physical talents when he arrived as the new coach in Chicago in 2004 after Urlacher had made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons, and was a two-time All-Pro. An early team meeting taught him about Urlacher’s mentality when he told the defense he expected the unit to lead the league in turnovers. Urlacher stayed after and set the tone for those dominant Bears defenses.

”He said: `Coach, let me get this right. In order for us to lead the league we have to wait for the offense to turn the ball over?”’ Smith recalled. ”That was the first time I’d looked at it that way. Brian called it a takeaway on the defensive side of the ball. The offense turns the ball over. Defensively, your job is to take the ball away every time. No one bought into us taking the ball away as much as Brian did.”

No defense took the ball away more than the Bears in the nine seasons Smith and Urlacher were together, with 292 takeaways. No linebacker other than fellow 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Ray Lewis took the ball away more than Urlacher during his 13-year career: 22 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries.

Urlacher also had 41 sacks and finished his career as the Bears’ all-time leading tackler. He won awards as the top defensive rookie in 2000, Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, earned five All-Pro selections, eight Pro Bowl bids and helped the Bears win four division titles.

”Brian was the best,” said Packers quarterback and longtime NFC North rival Aaron Rodgers. ”He was probably one of the smartest players I ever played against. Just a great feel for the scheme, the game, reading his keys. Just incredibly instinctual player. Great hands. Average elusiveness, I can say that, because I tackled him one time. But one of the best to ever do it at that position in an era where some of the louder guys maybe got the attention – expecting the middle linebacker to be a loud yeller or rah-rah guy. Brian went about it in a very classy way. Played the game the right way and was an incredible player.”

Urlacher was not always destined for greatness. He was lightly recruited out of high school and ended up at New Mexico after Texas Tech didn’t offer him a scholarship.

But he thrived with the Lobos and made himself a first-round pick.

”I’ve had some great freshmen, but from the minute he arrived Cheap Leonard Williams Jersey , every coach stood up and took notice,” former New Mexico coach Dennis Franchione said. ”I remember sometime in the first 10 days of two-a-days, six of the nine assistant coaches came in – although independently, I didn’t think they talked about it – they said, `Coach, when are you going to play Urlacher.’ And I said, `I’m not sure yet.’ They said, `I’ll take him at my position.’ I think that was everybody except the quarterback coach, the line coach and the receivers coach. That’s how versatile he was. …

”He was a heat-seeking missile from the time he arrived on campus. Not only that, he was a really coachable, bright young man. Made other people better. You can just go on and on about him.”



AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman contributed to this report.



.
elaine95
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:47 am



Return to General Life in Streatham Common

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

cron