Iowa Wolves hosting Energy throwback with NBA champion Nick Nurse as special guest
Eerily enough, the first NBA title of Nick Nurse’s career was quite similar to his run to a D League championship as head honcho of the Iowa Energy.
Eight years separate the two championship-crowning accomplishments, but they both are held among high regard on the Carroll native’s resume. Nurse used an array of little known misfits to capture his first title on American soil back in 2011. He turned former ISU great Curtis Stinson into a legend, and transformed the unique skills of little known Stefhon Hannah into a cult hero. Fast forward to 2019, and the former Kuemper Catholic high school All-Stater had led several NBA misfits, including Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry (albeit thanks in large part to MVP Kawhi Leonard) to the NBA championship.
For those two accomplishments alone, and the many other victories and trophies Nurse has picked up over the last 35 years, the Iowa Wolves have decided to turn back the clock.
The Minnesota Timberwolves minor league affiliate is hosting an Iowa Energy throwback night at 7 p.m. inside Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena tonight. The G League franchise, which was formerly known as the Iowa Energy until 2017, will honor Nurse and his fellow assistant, Storm Lake native Nate Bjorkgren during Friday’s contest. Bjorkgren was an assistant under Nurse when he won the 2011 D League title, and is now Nurse’s top guy on his Toronto bench. Both will be present for Friday’s festivities.
Nurse was the brain child behind the creation of Des Moines’ NBA D League (Now the G League) franchise. He pitched the idea to the NBA, pleading Des Moines’ case for a minor league franchise and rounding up investors. He had his finger on creating the franchise brand – everything from the logo and nickname down to the color scheme. Nurse was the Iowa Energy’s first coach, ushering in the initial wave of NBA affiliated basketball into the Des Moines area. The 1985 Iowa High School basketball State champion had strong say in the entire makeup of the franchise, drafting players and etching out new schemes, all while turning middling professionals into stars and champions.
Nurse has often been heard reminiscing on his Iowa Energy days, reflecting on his appreciation for the fan base and the incredible things he accomplished in Des Moines. Nurse is the only coach in NBA history to win both an NBA title and a D League championship. Quite the distinction for a guy from rural Iowa. Following the 2011 championship, Nurse took a job with the Houston Rockets D League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He was there for just two seasons, winning another title in 2013. The Toronto Raptors took notice, hiring Nurse as an assistant prior to the 2013-14 NBA season.
Prior to tonight’s ceremony, the first 1,000 fans will receive a commemorative Nick Nurse bobblehead.