The Raptors will soon be able to boast that they have a Member of the Order of the British Empire on their coaching staff.
Confirming a report from the British basketball website 247mvp.com, NBA sources say Toronto head coach Nick Nurse is going to add Bronx-raised British basketball coaching icon Fabulous Flournoy to his staff for the NBA season the begins next month.
As well, Toronto is going to hire long-time minor league player Mark Tyndale for the staff.
Flournoy and Tyndale will replace the departing Phil Handy and Jeremy Castleberry. The official announcement isn’t expected until Nurse concludes his job with Canada’s national team at the World Cup. They will join Adrian Griffin, Nate Bjorkgren and Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo as the main components of Nurse’s crew.
Flournoy, who has been a player/coach with the Newcastle Eagles for 17 years after being convinced to play in Britain by Nurse, when the Raptors head coach was with the Birmingham Bullets, also confirmed the move.
“I knew this day would come at some point,” said Flournoy, who has coached or played on 24 championship or Cup-winning teams in Newcastle.
“I won’t deny I shed a few tears and I still don’t think it’s sunk in. I have spent the last 18 years living and breathing Newcastle Eagles and it’s been an absolute joy.”
There is no question that Flournoy will be among the most intriguing assistant coaches in Raptors franchise history.
He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Prince William in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2017, for his service to basketball and community work in the northeast city of Newcastle.
Flournoy’s ties to Nurse run deep. In the nascence of his coaching career, Nurse convinced the six-foot-four Flournoy — who goes by Fab — to play for the Bullets and begin a decades-long career in Britain.
Flournoy joined the Newcastle franchise from Sheffield in 2001 as a player, and became a player/coach a year later. Last season, he started four games and appeared in 27 for the Eagles.
According to the Newcastle team’s website, within two years of taking over as the head coach he had led the Eagles to their first piece of silverware as the club defeated Nurse’s Brighton Bears 85-60 in the 2005 BBL Trophy final.
“When I approached Fab to become player/coach neither of us really knew whether it would work,” said Paul Blake, the team’s managing director. “But I guess it turned out OK! Fab has gone on to establish himself as one of the finest coaches of his generation and continued to play at the same time.
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“What he has achieved for our organization on and off the court is quite remarkable and I am indebted to the commitment and passion he has shown for 17 years.
“I always suspected this day would come because there are plenty of people in basketball working all over the world who understand just what an asset Fab can be.”