Nick Nurse will have had the finest support money could buy when he planned to conquer the world.

A bit different to when he tried to put Brighton Bears on the European map 15 years ago.

Nurse, the former head coach and owner of the Bears, stands on top of the basketball world after guiding the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title.

It is a long way from his British Basketball League days which also took in Derby, Birmingham, Manchester and London.

His days with the Bears, between 2001 and 2006, tend to be glossed over when his incredible story is told.

It wasn’t always a bundle of laughs. He went bankrupt, served a two-year driving ban and saw his relationship with the mother of his first son Noah collapse.

He took the club out of the league just ahead of the 2006-07 campaign, having sold season tickets to fans.

Nurse was barely around for his final season as he helped set up a team back in the States, although he returned to hire Dennis Rodman for three games as team sponsors Genesis, an Eastbourne company, footed the bill.

But there were some amazing times at his best – and some brilliant examples of the flair and ambition which have taken him to the top.

Bears were bottom of the BBL southern conference when he arrived. They were one basket away from winning it a year later and became league champions in 2004.

But it was the way he tackled bigger, richer clubs in the ULEB Cup – the equivalent at the time of the UEFA Cup - which showed him in his best light.

As Argus reporter and unofficial Bears press officer, it was a thrill to see it all at close quarters.

Ten games – five at home and five away, at Cholet (France), Ionikos (Athens), Split (Croatia), Lietuvos Rytas (Vilnius, Lithuania) and Sopot (Poland, essentially Gdansk’s adjoining beach resort).

Brighton were like one of those Scandinavian minnows from a tiny league you get in European football competitions.

Lietuvos Rytas were one of the top teams in the competition and had players who had turned down the NBA. Yet Brighton went there and win.

I met Nurse in the tiny office the Bears called HQ at dawn the day before that game. He rummaged around in drawers and a cupboard to find a full set of kit.

Then we set off to Gatwick in a fleet of three or four cars.

Halfway up the M23, Nurse got his phone out and called around the other cars to see which players had turned up.

It felt like going away with a Sunday League team.

By the end of the following evening, Bears had won by nine to stun the basketball continent and Nurse’s opposite number, the European coach of the year, had been sacked.

Nurse invited a handful of reporters on the first two away trips and asked a couple of them to dress in suits and sit next to him on the bench.

He wanted to give the illusion of a big club with a sizeable coaching team.

When they went to Split, I made it into a holiday and got there a few days early.

I travelled up the coast by bus to see Split play Zadar and told Nurse I was there.

There were no live streams back then so Nurse texted me back and asked me to compile a scouting report.

Having no clue what to do, I just wrote down everything that happened – every shot, every assist, every substitution – and faxed it to him with a stats sheet.

Nurse had the multi-paged print out of that epic in his hand when he turned up for practice at Split’s gym the night before the game.

He had waded through the whole lot and, whether it helped or not, Bears won the game.

Nurse was brilliant tactically. There was much talk in the NBA finals of how he played a box-and-one defence at one stage.

I didn’t see it but I wonder whether it was like the box-and-one which bemused Terrell Myers, the BBL’s best shooting guard, in a game at London Towers.

The Argus:

He set four men up in a zone defence and told his best defender, Mike Brown, to get right in Myers’ face. Brown didn’t even look at the ball. Team-mates had to tell him when it was coming his way.

It was good. But what made it genius was that Nurse did not employ that defence until the second half. He took away the opportunity for Myers and Towers to adjust at half-time.

Nurse loved big nights at the Brighton Centre but, at even at a reduced rate of £3,000 per match, the rental was crippling. And availability was limited, especially when the ice show was on.

So half the home games were at the Triangle leisure centre in Burgess Hill – including that fateful night when Rodman appeared.

It was classic Nurse – excitement, showmanship, ambition, living beyond his means and ignoring the rulebook.

Brighton won the game but were docked points for fielding too many foreign players as Rodman took them over the limit (just as Nurse knew he would).

Rodman was not the only NBA man Nurse signed.

The Argus:

When Nigerian centre Olumide Oyedeji was let go by the Orlando Magic, Nurse persuaded him to play for free as a way of putting himself in the European shop window.

He flew him to Nantes for the game at Cholet to the annoyance of the home club and indeed Bears’ existing players.

Oyedeji got as far as the warm-up when his agent called and told him not to play as he had a deal in place with another club.

He ended up sharing my room, sitting up all night surrounded by a staggering collection of laptops and mobile phones. I could hear Kurtis Blow’s anthemic Basketball coming out of some headphones as I drifted off to sleep.

At one stage Nurse got into a habit of arriving at the last minute for away games. He would keep his team sitting in the coach or hanging around the nearest motorway services to get the home club wondering where they were. All paet of seeking some sort of edge.

He once asked me for 2,000 copies of The Argus before a match. Any Arguses - they didn’t have to be that day’s.

He wanted home fans to be reading newspapers and ignoring the away team when they were introduced one-by-one before the game.

It was a quirky stunt picked up from college basketball but fans didn’t really get it and just thought it was an Argus giveaway.

He got a league game shown live on Meridian, the local ITV channel, at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.

He persuaded the league to stage the BBL Trophy final at the Brighton Centre but Bears were injury-hit, similar to Golden State this year, and were humiliated on their own stage by Newcastle.

He commissioned a blue-and-white-striped home kit to try and tap into Albion support.

He spoke about staging games at the Black Rock arena – the one which was never built.

But he ultimately over-estimated the public appetite here for basketball.

The Argus:

He brought high quality, tactical European basketball but not enough fans wanted to watch it at 8pm on a school night.

Many just wanted somewhere to take the kids on a Saturday night to see the big blokes dunk and the cheerleaders dance to Destiny’s Child.

The whole thing came crashing down and has not left the legacy of, for example, the Brighton Tigers.

I suspect Nurse has no wish to return to Brighton. Why should he?

But it was fun. And it was a stepping stone for a brilliant coach who now stands on top of his world.