The Indiana Pacers reportedly have a new head coach.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Pacers have hired Toronto Raptors assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren to replace Nate McMillan as the team's head coach.
The Indiana Pacers are hiring Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.- Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 20, 2020
This will be Bjorkgren's first head coaching gig in the NBA, but he has coaching experience at almost every level.
Here are some fast facts on Indiana's reported new coach.
Bjorkgren was born in Storm Lake, Iowa on June 20, 1975.
He attended high school at Storm Lake. He spent two years at the University of South Dakota before transferring to Buena Vista University. He played basketball at both South Dakota and Buena Vista and graduated with a degree in Exercise Science.
Bjorkgren began his coaching career at the high school level, taking over as head coach of the Cactus Shadows High School (2004-07) in Cave Creek, Arizona. Following his third season, he was hired to be an assistant coach under Nick Nurse for the D-League's Iowa Energy (2007-11).
Bjorkgren was a part of the Energy's coaching staff in 2011 when the franchise won their first and only D-League championship to date.
In 2011, @Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren won an #NBAGLeague championship together with the Iowa Energy. pic.twitter.com/sWH5F9lbqA- NBA G League (@nbagleague) June 19, 2019
Bjorkgren went on to be the head coach of the Dakota Wizards/Santa Cruz Warriors (2011-13), Energy (2013-14) and Bakersfield Jam (2014-15).
In 2015, Bjorkgren made the jump to the NBA, becoming an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns under Jeff Hornacek. He then joined the Raptors as an assistant coach under Nurse in 2018.
In winning a D-League championship in 2011 and an NBA championship in 2019, Bjorkgren is the first assistant coach to win a title in both leagues.
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"The biggest thing is he's a super-positive guy," said Raptors head coach Nurse. "He's the guy sitting next to me when I'm sensing disaster going on in a game and he's saying, 'We're gonna win, we're gonna come back.' Constantly, 'We're gonna do it, we're gonna come back.' And that helps me out quite a bit."
"Nate is the [expletive] man," said Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. "He's always that positive, happy go-lucky [guy], always looking at the plus side, not looking at anything negative. We need that."
"I think Nate's fun," said Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. "I hear him all the time in my ear talking about something. Every morning he'll say hi to you and give you a dab. He's present and I think his energy is felt and needed on this team. He's a great guy to have, a great coach and somebody who is a likable person and so serious about his job."
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