Tampa Bay is the final stop on Nick Nurse’s global coaching journey

When Nick Nurse coached the British Basketball League Derby in the early 1990s, the team could only afford to book the Moorways Center training hall for two evenings a week.

The nurse and her team were arriving for a 7 p.m. start just as the badminton players on the floor ahead of them were taking their final shots and removing the nets.

The nurse is used to adapting to different setups, making a dozen career breaks in the US and overseas before finally settling into her first NBA job in Toronto.

On Monday, Nurse and the Raptors moved into their temporary home away from home in Tampa, Fla, another pushpin on Nurse’s travel map.

“Just one more stop along the coaching route for me. Just another place to live, another city, another thing happening, ”Nurse said on a Zoom call on Wednesday.

WATCH | Nurses’ expectations remain high despite relocation:

The Raptors play their home games in Florida after the federal government denied the team’s request to play in Toronto. Head coach Nick Nurse says he would rather be back in Canada, but will find no excuse and expects the team to play at a high level. 1:52

Due to Canada’s travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Raptors play their ‘home’ games at Amalie Arena, which is normally home to the NHL Lightning, and set up a training facility at a hotel downtown.

The nurse brought up memories of Derby when asked about the worst place he has ever practiced.

“There have been other good doozies in there,” he laughs. “I always say just drive me to a training ground and to the games and we’ll be happy. ”

Focus on the positive

It’s critical, Nurse said, that players and staff fully embrace their temporary home in Tampa, rather than dwelling on the fact that they don’t play outside of Scotiabank Arena.

“You know I’m not afraid to tell you how much I love being in Toronto, it’s our city and it’s our team and our organization – there are a lot of unsettling feelings about having to leave, for be honest. It is not easy. , right? The nurse said.

“I can only say this: I know I prefer being in Toronto, but I’m not. And now I’m going to make the most of it here… We’re going to do our best to focus on becoming the best basketball team we can be. And we do it by accepting first, here’s where we are. Put a smile on our face, get on the right side of the bed, have a positive attitude and go to work. ”

The rare cloud that hangs over this season is the threat of the global pandemic, which has taken its toll in professional leagues, especially the NFL. NBA teams are currently limited to individual sessions with one coach and one player per basket. Players and coaches are tested daily, and teams can start hosting group training on Sunday, just five days before the start of the preseason.

League health and safety protocols state that it can take up to 12 days for a player to return to play after testing positive. While there were no positive tests in the NBA “bubble” at Walt Disney World near Orlando, there was also no travel involved and movement was limited.

‘Things are going to happen’

It is “extremely important” that the players follow the rules, Nurse said.

“The responsibility rests with each of us individually, to make sure that we follow all protocols. I hope everyone has their own health and safety and the health and safety of their families foremost while traveling during the day. , ” he said. “It puts an extra layer of importance or priority that is different from a normal season, but we’re definitely not in a normal season or in normal time, so we’re all going to have to be very vigilant on that aspect. ”

Two unnamed Golden State Warriors players recently tested positive for COVID-19. Raptors guard Norman Powell said that with the difficulty of controlling player environments there is bound to be more.

WATCH | Raptors GM Webster kisses the team’s temporary home:

Bobby Webster explains how the Raptors chose Tampa as their temporary home. 2:03

NFL has been ravaged by COVID-19, with dozens of players testing positive, forcing schedule adjustments

“I think these things are going to happen throughout the season. You just have to deal with them as they come in just like football players test positive, ”said Powell. “You have to have protocols and regulations to stop the spread and make sure these players are safe, quarantined and can overcome these symptoms, be healthy and start playing again as quickly as possible. ”

Florida has been a hotbed of coronavirus for months and on Tuesday surpassed one million cases.

The Raptors open their three-game preseason schedule with two games in Charlotte on December 12 and 14. They will face Miami in their first “home” game on December 18. The season will end on December 22.

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