THE MUSICAL LIFE OF
RAPTORS COACH NICK NURSE
The NBA Coach of the Year opens up about his massive record collection , learning guitar & his music-focused foundation .
By Lindsay Dunn
“ From the jazz point of view , I ’ ve got every single Thelonious Monk album .”
Toronto Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse has set records on the basketball court , including becoming the first head coach to win both an NBA and G-League title , but the 2020 NBA Coach of the Year is dealing with thousands of records , around 3,500 to be exact , and trying to figure out what he does and doesn ’ t have .
The music lover , who is known to pick up a record or two while on the road with the team , is slowly sorting through his record collection at home .
“ I haven ’ t sat down yet and cataloged them but I will ! I have like 50 Thelonious Monk albums , there ’ s 75 or 80 Miles Davis , I ’ ve got dozens of John Coltrane , and it goes on and on ,” he tells Canadian Musician .
A good portion of his jazz collection , which also includes other legends of the genre such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker , he bought off of a Toronto jazz photographer ( Nurse didn ’ t disclose who ).
It ’ s not just jazz in his extensive collection , as the Prince superfan has a large collection of The Purple One from special-edition releases of Purple Rain to a sealed copy of Around the World in a Day . His eclectic collection also includes anything from John Prine , Dallas Green ’ s project You + Me with P ! nk , to one of his favorite groups , Earth , Wind & Fire .
“ There are incredible treasures in there , like almost every time I go through them I find a treasure . Unfortunately , I ’ ve moved quite a bit over the pandemic so I ’ ve had to get them out and reshift them a few times so I ’ m still trying to see everything I have . There ’ s stuff from all over the world . There are verbal albums like Malcolm X live recordings to the poetry of Langston Hughes . I mean , there ’ s some stuff in there that just to me is mind-boggling and really cool .”
When Nurse is at home , in his office , or
NICK NURSE STEPPING OFF THE RAPTORS ’ PLANE WITH HIS GUITAR IN HAND
on the road , he brings along a keyboard and is working on several songs , including what he says is his “ seven-thousandth version ” of Prince ’ s “ Purple Rain ,” or practising his guitar skills . He only started learning guitar a few years ago and admits the frustration he ’ s had lately working on his fingerpicking skills . Making sure to always push forward , he ’ s been taking guitar lessons over Zoom .
“ How ’ s it going ?” Nurse says with a laugh
when asked about how his guitar skills are advancing . “ It ’ s going okay . I ’ ve actually shifted over to my electric , so I bring a really small amp and my electric guitar . I mean , the guitar is difficult , right ? I mean , when you ’ re playing the piano , anybody can make that one noise on a key with their finger , but on the guitar , you ’ ve got to press it right and then there are strumming patterns and there are lots of finger things going on and then you got to sing on top of that !
PHOTO : COURTESY OF THE TORONTO RAPTORS / MLSE
38 CANADIAN MUSICIAN