What makes a championship team? Well, according to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse a little tough love goes a long way. Nurse recently insulted the skills of two of his rookies when asked if they were assisting the team’s defence. Raptors newcomers Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were both heavily criticized by the coach during an interview with TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.
"Nope. Nope. Nope. Those guys have not understood A) how hard we play, B) our schemes, that defence is a priority for them, etc.," Nurse told TSN when questioned if Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson have helped since both were signed on for their defensive mindsets.
And Nurse wasn’t about to let sleeping dogs lay either:
"We've got some work to do with that crew. I tell them there's a couple spots, come Tuesday night there's a couple spots there open if somebody wants them. And I keep telling them show me you're going to play defense, show me you're going to play hard, show me you understand our coverages. Just because of who you're on the floor with and they'll come to you, you don't have to come down and occupy 95 percent of your mind with how you're going to break down and get your next shot."
There are 8 players Nurse frequently brings up as locks for the rotation (/potential starters): Lowry, FVV, Norm, O… https://t.co/3oJU2Nb93z— Josh Lewenberg (@Josh Lewenberg)1571251252.0
Time of year to build. 📺 | https://t.co/U1A3E2qYCk https://t.co/kOHz8awFHN— Toronto Raptors (@Toronto Raptors)1571255952.0
Despite his stern approach, Nurse did offer an opportunity for the new players to grow. "It's not going to get you on the floor right now. So, we've got some work to do. We've got to find who's going to blend in quickly defensively with this crew."
The head coach’s brutal honesty may have seemed harsh to those outside of the basketball world, but fans were loving his no-nonsense approach. “glad he’s not holding back,” wrote one user about Nurse's assessment. “Good on Nick Nurse hope he also told privately because those can do so much more,” wrote another.
@JLew1050 Love it— Matt Dang (@Matt Dang)1571247507.0
Nurse has never been one to shy away from smack talk. Back in September, the coach flamed former Raptors player Jonas Valanciunas ahead of Canada’s face-off against Lithuania in the FIBA world cup. "I obviously love Jonas. But I'm gonna try to kick his ass tomorrow," Nurse said at the time.