Newcastle Eagles coach Fabulous Flournoy has left the club to join NBA champions Toronto Raptors.
Flournoy joins the Canadian franchise as assistant to head coach Nick Nurse, the man who brought him to the BBL in 1996.
“I knew this day would come at some point,” said Flournoy, who won 24 trophies in 17 years as player-coach on Tyneside.
“I loved leading the team out at the new Community Arena earlier this year.”
The 46-year-old says he “shed a few tears” after making the decision to leave Newcastle despite being told to take the “unbelievable opportunity with both hands” by Eagles managing director Paul Blake.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in,” he added. “I have spent the last 18 years living and breathing Newcastle Eagles and it’s been an absolute joy.”
Blake, who must now fill the vacancy for the first time since 2002, says Flournoy has “established himself as one of the finest coaches of his generation” and he leaves the club in a “strong position”.
“Everyone at Newcastle wishes him all the luck in the world and we can only thank him for the incredible job he has done over so many years,” said Blake.
“The Raptors have signed a winner in every sense of the word.”
Flournoy’s record with Newcastle
Won the BBL Championship 7 times
Play-offs: 6 times (9 finals)
Cup: 5 times (8 finals)
Trophy: Six times (9 finals)
Led the Newcastle Eagles to 574 wins (most ever in BBL)
Coach of the year: 5 times
Played for England as a naturalised player: 16 caps – the last of these was in the 2005 Commonwealth Games, when he won a bronze medal.