Reigning Coach of the Year Joins Vipers

Nick Nurse Becomes Vipers Head Coach

Nick Nurse (Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images)

September 19, 2011

MCALLEN – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers and their parent club, the Houston Rockets, announced in a press conference on Monday that 2011 Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year and NBA Development League champion Nick Nurse has been named the new head coach of the Vipers. Nurse spent the last four seasons as the head coach of the Iowa Energy and led the Energy to the NBA Development League championship this past season.

Nurse recently returned from Europe after fulfilling his obligations as an assistant coach of the 2012 Olympics-bound British National Team, which is led by former Vipers head coach and current Rockets assistant coach Chris Finch.

“Nick is a championship caliber coach with a very accomplished and diverse background,” said Vipers General Manager Gersson Rosas, who is also the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Rockets. “We strongly value what he brings in terms of high level coaching experience, success in developing players and a strong commitment to local community. His record speaks for itself and we are excited about his upside as a coach in our system.”

A three-time NBA Development League All-Star head coach, Nurse led the Energy to back-to-back 37-13 finishes over the last two seasons, setting and then tying the league record for wins in a single season. Nurse led the Energy to two Eastern Conference championships, one Central Division championship and an overall regular season mark of 124-76 (.620). After leading the Energy past the Vipers for the 2011 NBA Development League championship, Nurse holds an NBA Development League playoff record of 9-6 (.600). The only head coach in the history of the Energy, Nurse coached two Most Valuable Players and one Rookie of the Year while producing 13 GATORADE Call-Ups of seven different players.

Nurse also served as the head coach of the NBA D-League Select Team during the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League and as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls’ 2009 NBA Summer League team.

“I would like to thank everyone at the Iowa Energy from the tremendous ownership group, staff, fans, and especially the players who gave so much to the organization over the past 4 years. It was great to return to my home state and truly feel the 'Iowa Spirit'. My staff, players and I were treated like champions from day one. And the fans truly gave us great support that shows what a great basketball state Iowa can be.

“I am honored to be working for the Houston Rockets organization and am excited to continue to grow as a coach. The Vipers and their fans have shown what kind of organization they are both on and off the floor and I hope to continue that success. I am extremely excited to be joining a team that works so closely with the Houston Rockets and has a winning tradition and passionate fans,” Nurse said.

A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Nurse began his coaching career at the age of 23 when he became the head coach of Grand View College, making him the youngest college basketball coach in the United States. He engineered an improvement of 12 wins and a playoff berth before becoming an assistant coach at the University of South Dakota, where he recorded a 46-14 record while earning his Master’s Degree.

Nurse coached in Europe for 11 years starting in 1996, winning nine championships, and two Coach of the Year awards while earning six All-Star head coach selections in the British Basketball League. During that time, he also gained coaching experience in Italy, Belgium, the USBL and the FILA LA Summer League. Additionally, Nurse served as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks Summer Pro Team in 2000.

Nurse holds a career professional coaching record of 400-179 (.691) during the regular season and 70-54 (.565) during the post-season.

“We are very excited to welcome Nick to the Vipers,” said Vipers President Bert Garcia. “This hire guarantees that we will continue our traditions of winning and being active in the community as well.”

Nurse becomes the fourth head coach in Vipers history, replacing Finch, who went 65-33 with one championship in two seasons before earning a promotion to the Rockets in July.

Nick Nurse by the Numbers:
Championships: 10
All-Star Selections: 9
Coach of the Year Awards: 3
Professional Regular Season Coaching Record: 400-179 (.691)
Professional Post-Season Coaching Record: 70-54 (.565)

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers are the NBA Development League affiliate of the NBA Houston Rockets. The NBA Development League, founded in 2001, is the NBA’s official minor league. Featuring 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises, the NBA D-League is a proven developer of talent: 23 percent of players in the NBA at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season boasted NBA D-League experience, and the league continues to develop coaches, referees, and front-office staff for the NBA and its teams. In fostering the league’s connection to the community, its teams, players and staff promote health and wellness, support local needs and interests, and assist in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs. The NBA D-League also advances the game of basketball as the research and development arm of the NBA. Throughout the league’s upcoming 11th season, fans can watch all NBA D-League games on NBA FUTURECAST, the free live Web-streaming initiative found at nba.com/futurecast.