Moving to Tampa is just another stop for well-traveled Raptors duo

Head coach Nick Nurse, forward Pascal Siakam took unlikely paths to stardom
Toronto Raptors to begin next NBA season in Tampa due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada
Posted at 3:04 PM, Dec 04, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Raptors head coach Nick Nurse got his first head coaching job in England. The team only practiced twice a week because they could only afford to rent practice space on Tuesday and Friday nights. When they actually got to the gym, they had to wait their turn.

"Badminton was running right up until seven o’clock. Literally clicked 7 o’clock, they were taking their last few," Nurse joked, as he made a swinging motion with his arm. "They’d take the nets down, and we would come out on to the floor. And we had 7 to 9 twice a week."

The reigning NBA Coach of the Year has coached more than a dozen teams in five countries, so he has his share of funny stories.

"There have been some other doozies in there, but that’s probably been the- I only say 'Just get me to a practice floor and to the games and we’ll be happy,'" he said.

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam was born in Cameroon. He went to prep school in Texas before playing college basketball at New Mexico State.

There wasn't much hype surrounding him when the Raptors took him with the 27th pick of the 2016 draft, but Siakam says he never listens to any of the outside noise.

"If I listened to doubts, or people telling me where I was supposed to be, or where my ceiling was supposed to be, or where I was coming into the league," Siakam said. "Always defined by other people. I never listened to that."

Siakam earned 2019 Most Improved Player honors after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds, earning himself a four-year, $130 million contract extension.