Raptors Assistant Adrian Griffin 'Felt Like Cinderella' as Head Coach vs. 76ers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 13, 2020

Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game while leading the team after head coach Nick Nurse stepped down for a the night to let Griffin coach against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

There's never a better time for an NBA assistant coach to use a Cinderella comparison than when the league is finishing its season at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin didn't miss his chance Wednesday.

"For one night, I felt like Cinderella," he said following a 125-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in which head coach Nick Nurse let him serve as the de facto head coach in the game, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. "I had the glass slippers on."

Lopez noted Nurse is still credited with the win, according to NBA rules.

"Tomorrow, it's back to reality," Griffin added. "But it was an awesome feeling."

It was such a memorable experience for Griffin because he has yet to serve as a team's head coach.

Griffin began his coaching career as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008-09, and he had ensuing stints with the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Raptors. He joined Nurse's staff in 2018 and helped lead them to a championship last season.

All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry couldn't hide his excitement for Griffin after the game.

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"It means the world. It means everything. It shows the humility of our coach, Nick Nurse, to have the understanding to give him a chance to coach us on national TV and have his first opportunity to coach a team from the first tip to the end of the game. He did an unbelievable job. Hopefully, Coach Griffin is a head coach soon. We'll miss him, but hopefully he gets that opportunity to be a head coach."

Griffin clearly did something right because his Raptors battled back from a 16-point deficit for a dramatic comeback win.

Stanley Johnson put them ahead for good with a putback in the final seconds, and Toronto's defense forced a turnover on the ensuing possession.

Lowry and Chris Boucher led the victors in scoring with 19 points each, while Tobias Harris scored 22 for a 76ers squad that was without an injured Ben Simmons for the entire game and an injured Joel Embiid for the second half.

Toronto is locked into the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed and will start its title defense with a first-round showdown against the Brooklyn Nets.