Returning to your former employer’s work address after being fired is always going to be awkward. In a not so shocking announcement, it has been revealed that Nick Nurse is out as Canada’s senior men’s national team head coach.
Rising coaching star Jordi Fernandez, an associate head coach for the Sacramento Kings, who emerged as a top candidate to replace Nurse as head coach of the Toronto Raptors will now take charge of the Canadian national basketball team.
Nurse took over as the coach of the Canadian national team in June 2019, right after winning the NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors. Under his guidance, Canada achieved a 2-3 record at the FIBA 2019 World Cup, finishing in 21st place out of 32 teams.
Furthermore, Nurse led Canada in the 2020 FIBA Olympics Qualifier, where the team failed to qualify on home soil, losing in dramatic fashion to Tomas Satoransky and the Czech Republic.
Following the disappointing performance in Victoria, British Columbia, Nurse showed his commitment to leading Canada through the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics by signing an extension with Canada Basketball.
However, everything changed when the Toronto Raptors decided to part ways with Nurse on April 2023 after four underwhelming seasons subsequent to their championship parade.
Not without a long list of suitors, the Philadelphia 76ers quickly scooped in and acquired Nurse’s coaching services, and from day one made it a big fuss about their newly acquired bench boss spending nearly six weeks away from their team.
The Raptors and their parent company, Maple Leafs Sports Entertainment (MLSE), have been instrumental in supporting the Canadian national basketball federation’s strategic plan of growing the game across Canada and internationally as a basketball powerhouse.
The national team has been holding training camp at the Raptors’ official practice facility for over two decades. The two organizations have even shared executive personnel, as seen in the hiring of Glen Grundwal and in the recent appointment of former MLSE executive Michael Bartlett as the current President & CEO of Canada Basketball.
As per sources Nurse worked alongside Canada Basketball to identify and secure Fernandez commitment from the Kings and also considered hiring Steve Nash as it’s next coach.
Nurse’s final appearances as the head coach of the Canadian team took place during windows three and four of the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers. Notably, he led Canada to victories over the Dominican Republic and Argentina.
Fernandez will become Canada’s sixteenth (16) official head coach since Gordon Fuller first coached the team at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
At 40 years old, Fernandez boasts 14 years of NBA coaching experience. He began his journey as a player development coach in 2009 under former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown, who is now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Jordi Fernandez helped coach Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic
Later, Fernandez joined the Denver Nuggets as an assistant coach in the 2016-17 season, spending six years helping develop Canadian star Jamal Murray and two-time most valuable player Nikola Jokić.
Fernandez and Brown reunited a decade later, when Fernandez served as an assistant coach under Brown for the Nigerian national team at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
After Brown’s appointment as the head coach of the new look and revitalized Kings organization, Jay Triano, the former head coach of the Canadian national team, and Fernandez were announced as part of his coaching staff.
With the appointment of Fernandez and Víctor Lapeña as the head coach of the women’s team, both Canadian senior men’s and women’s national teams are now under the guidance of Spanish nationals.
Canada is aiming to end its 23-year Olympic drought and is coming off its best FIBA World Cup qualification process, finishing with an impressive 11-1 record.
A top-two finish among teams from the Americas in the FIBA 2023 World Cup will secure direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Canada’s first Group H match in the FIBA 2023 World Cup is scheduled for Friday, August 25th against France. They will also compete against Latvia and Lebanon.
To secure one of the seven direct spots to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Canada will need to finish in the top two positions in Group H and, depending on the outcome of other games, likely need to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.