The Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship with Nick Nurse leading the bench, but the team’s current run of success began with Dwane Casey in charge.
Despite being fired by the Raptors one year before they won the title, Casey says people shouldn’t pity him.
“I think everybody thought I would be, ‘Woe is me.’ But I looked at it the other way,” Casey said in an interview with Michael Lee of The Athletic. “What it did, it reinforced what I was I doing. And that group took it over the hump and finished it.
“The foundation, what we were building, how I was building it, was good. Running the same offence, same defence, same philosophy, same things we built there for seven years, so it enthused me. I was happy for the players, for the country and the team. It really energized me, that what we were doing was right. I took that with it, more than jealousy.”
Casey coached the Raptors for seven seasons, which included five straight playoff appearances and a franchise-best 59 wins in his final year. He is the longest serving and all-time winningest coach in Raptors history, and the only one to leave the team with a winning record.
But after the team failed to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the post-season for the third straight year, Casey was fired after the 2017-18 campaign and had to watch the team he helped build win without him.
“It was all positive. There was nobody that I know, family or whatever, that was pissed off that (the Raptors) won the championship. Believe me, I was just pulling for them, as much as every else,” Casey said. “I wasn’t there to see it through fruition but you can’t take away the numbers and what we accomplished.”