Nick Nurse, head coach of the Toronto Raptors, slipped the team’s diamond-encrusted championship ring off his finger and passed it around a packed room during a University of Toronto fundraising event earlier this week.
Sports journalist and broadcaster Elliotte Friedman, who was moderating the Basketball Excellence Program (BEP) event, asked Nurse what pops into his head when the ring goes on his finger.
“I think about sharing it with everybody,” said Nurse. “That was the best experience for me about getting the title – sharing it with everybody from Toronto and Canada, with the people from Iowa where I grew up and the people I went to school with.”
Nurse was invited to the inaugural fundraising event, held at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, to discuss his team’s journey to the NBA championship. BEP was initiated as part of U of T’s commitment to athletic and academic excellence, and to further support the social and leadership development of its students.
U of T President Meric Gertler and Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education Ira Jacobs were on hand to welcome the guest of honour.
“The university’s commitment to excellence is something we share in common with the Raptors. But our connections go deeper,” said President Gertler, noting U of T’s Chancellor Emeritus and former Ontario Premier David Peterson was the founding chairman of the Raptors. As well, many of the team’s supporters – doctors, therapists, dentists and coaches – have ties to U of T, while the university’s venues have hosted Raptors’ practices, tryouts and camps.
“Even the Raptor, the famous mascot for the team, made his debut at U of T during the high school all-star game between Toronto and Michigan – a little known fact,” President Gertler said.
“Perhaps most significantly, the Raptors and U of T are both massive city builders. Whether it’s through our athletics facilities or the knowledge capacities we build, U of T’s nearly 200-year-long relationship with Toronto has literally transformed this city. The Raptors aren’t quite as old as we are, but the team has brought this city together like never before.”