FORMER Brighton Bears basketball coach Nick Nurse has guided the Toronto Raptors to clinch their first-ever NBA championship... the big prize in America.

Canada’s Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title, beating defending champions the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

The Raptors’ victory, headed by American coach Nick, put the finishing touches on a remarkable best-of-seven series upset that denied the Warriors a fourth title in five years – sparking a countrywide celebration.

But, despite winning big with Toronto, Nick rose from very humble beginnings after moving to Sussex to take over the Brighton Bears in 2001.

After taking over, he became increasingly involved in the management of the club and even publicly claimed how he went bankrupt to save his beloved club from extinction.

Nick, previously employed as head coach at some of Britain’s leading clubs, told how he first subsidised the Bears with his own savings in early 2002.

During his career in England he won two British Basketball League (BBL) championships, was an all-star head coach six times and coach of the year twice.

After winning with the Raptors, Nick told the worldwide media that his time managing in England made him the coach he is today.

“I always say that all those jobs meant the world to me at the time – I loved all those jobs,” he reflected.

He added that he hopes his experience will “inspire and spark the imagination” of other coaches.

Yorick Williams, who played under Nick at at the Bears in 2003, said it “came as no surprise” after seeing Nick reach the pinnacle of his career.

Yorick – a big success in his first spell in Sussex – claimed the first two major honours of a colourful career by helping the Bears win the league and the cup during his two-year stint.

The Mancunian told The Argus: “Nick was meticulous in his work and was never satisfied with any performance which, ultimately, kept us on our toes. He put a lot on the line personally when he took over the club and that made us, as players, have the upmost respect for him.”

The veteran, who made his debut in the game 25 years ago, saw him follow in the footsteps of Nick after becoming the head coach of the Manchester Giants in the British Basketball League in 2015.

The Brighton Bears basketball team, which played at the Brighton Centre and at The Triangle, Burgess Hill, closed when he moved to America in 2006.