UXBRIDGE, Ont. —Nick Nurse was smiling, shortly after playing five quick warmup holes before the main event, coming in less than an hour.
“Birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey,” my life story nurse joked. “I’ve been in that phase many times in my life, and it doesn’t end at 72.”
Hosting a charity golf tournament for her Nick Nurse Foundation (which aims to “improve the lives of children and young adults through music, sports, and literacy”) at Wooden Sticks Golf Course on Wednesday, Norse helped spread the word and appeared excited to raise money for her foundation.
“I was just talking to a bunch of people about it and they were surprised it was our first,” the nurse said of Wednesday’s incident. “I told them the story that we started that night when everyone’s phone or TV got scrolls, which Rudy Gobert tested positive. We were literally on the stage of Evening of Music Night that night. So this has been a first-of-its-kind live event.”
But while Nurse was having fun at the Lynx on Wednesday, it’s safe to assume that the rest of her team was getting some serious work in preparation for the upcoming season.
“I see – I don’t want to go too far here – but I see a little uniqueness with this group,” Nurse said of the players assembled on the Raptors roster at the moment. “I mean, none of them are here today, right? It’s because they’re all working out together in the gym. Literally, the entire team except one person who is competing in basketball in another country. So, we’ve seen some good signs for some reconciliation and some trust and building.”
As suggested by posts on social media, Raptor players such as Pascal Siakam, Dalano Banton and DJ Wilson are currently taking part in the famous Rico Hines Run in Los Angeles.
By the nurse’s account, though, there’s certainly more to the new Raptors assistant coach than the three people working with.
“One of the reasons why we do this is because we get a chance to get them out there and do some group work,” said the nurse. “So, the runs go on in the afternoon and it’s an organized afternoon-ball YMCA run, but very organized – there are three courts running at once. And Rico is running a show like this and there’s a winners’ court and you know That’s how it’s made.”
Even before he was on the coaching staff, Hines was credited for some of the big off-season jumps he’s seen from Siakam in the past, and one hopes this summer will be no different.
“He looks absolutely fantastic. He really does,” the nurse said of Siakam. “You just sit there and you watch him work out and his athleticism is electric, he is focused, his shot smooth And soft and I mean, he looks great.”
At this point, word that Siakam is looking for ways to improve over the summer is perfect for the course. More interesting, and potentially more important to the Raptors’ future fate, is the further development of some of the team’s younger role players.
“I mean there’s a group of people that we know can all hit the floor and play for us and then they level up, play a role and do it more consistently every night, The nurse said. “Whoever wins those battles will be the person who probably does it most consistently.”
Specifically, Nurse is looking for Malachi Flynn to take a big leap, breaking the pro-am circuit this summer.
“Malachi was looking great the other day in LA,” said the nurse. “This is a big year for him to step up. And I really believe last year there was a window into where he was starting before he got hurt. And I think a lot of things are determined by injury. ,
On Wednesday, the Raptors announced their training camp schedule, beginning with Media Day on September 26 and going cross-country with stops in Victoria, BC for formal camp and pre-season games in Edmonton and Montreal. While he didn’t say it explicitly, the nurse did hint at what could be an enthusiastic, competitive pre-season period and gave a big clue as to where she and the coaching staff would be looking.
“Listen, I guess it,” said the nurse. “What do we need from those guys on the offensive end? They’re going to have to hit open shots. It’s not like they have to move, and build, every skillet in the world. When it comes around and kicks them in rhythm, that’s it. They have to build something. Whoever does that has the best chance of cementing one of those places.”
• Also participating in Wednesday’s golf tournament was former Raptors great and current Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, who had good things to say about the nine years he spent in Toronto.
“It’s great to be back here in the summer,” he said. “It is a place that I have called home for a long time, it will always be special in my heart and I will still call it home. … It is a beautiful place, beautiful country, beautiful people and there is a reason That I called this home for a long, long time and I will continue to call it home.
• Additionally, Lori mentioned that a major reason she helped nurse and kick out her foundation on Wednesday is because of the bond they formed while living together in Toronto.
“Nick was the guy I shot, worked with,” Lowry said. “He was an assistant when he first came here, so I and him had a great relationship even before I was head coach and we always had that mantra about winning, trying to understand, be innovative.
“Nick is a friend of mine and we got closer and closer and as the years went by we trusted each other more. To maintain a relationship with a guy like him, obviously I’m here for a reason “He is such a great person, he has helped me a lot in my career and all I can do is try to give back as much as he has been given to me.”
• Lowry missed several games last season for undisclosed personal reasons, which could be cited as why he was poor by his standards – a season similar to what he did in his inaugural South Beach campaign. The 36-year-old said he is still dealing with the disruption, and will publicly disclose what is happening when the matter becomes more settled.
“I’m still dealing with it. It’s a situation when it gets better, I’ll talk more about it but it’s definitely something that derailed my entire season and kept me on track for a long time.” “Even today, it’s still something I deal with every single day, I actually just got a call about it.”
• Among the special guests on Wednesday was none greater than Julius “Dr. Jay” Irving, who took the time to honor the life and legacy of his friend and mentor Bill Russell, the legendary NBA great and civil rights activist whose He died on Sunday at the age of 88.
“I had seen him from afar during my youth and adolescence, and then I was lucky enough to come through UMass and extend a hand of friendship when I was 20 years old,” Irving said. “So it was 52 years ago, and for this to happen it became important for me to try to do the same with players who are trying to follow in my footsteps, who admired my style of play. Key, my on and off-court presence and what have you. So I learned a lot from him.”
Lori and Nurse also weighed in on the indelible mark left by Russell.
“I think he meant a lot to the African-American community in general, that’s the most important thing,” Lowry said. “He was one of those people who stood up and pushed for more freedom for African-Americans, to say more, and to be more of everything.
“Basketball-wise? Unforgettable. One of the greatest athletes, one of the greatest players to ever play the sport… player-coach, everything he was able to do, we wish he was still here Because we want to show her more love, give her more flowers. And give her everything else.”
Added Nurse: “My high school coach had this iconic picture of him going after one of his own teammates to block the shot and it was a black and white thing that was in our locker room and he told me that pictured and we had a lot of discussions about Bill Russell, me and my high school coach. … But what can you say? His legacy speaks for itself.”