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Nova Scotia’s new Darling

How hard work and sacrifice got Bedford’s Nate Darling to the NBA

3 min read
A basketball is seen on a basketball court.
caption A basketball in the University of King’s College’s gym, Halifax. Nate Darling made history when he became the first Nova Scotian-born player to play in the NBA on March 13, 2021
Photo Illustration/Anna Mandin

On March 13, former Bedford resident Nate Darling made history as the first Nova
Scotian-born player to play in the NBA.

Katie Tanner, a representative from the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame, confirmed the
feat in an email on March 23.

But getting to the top wasn’t easy.

Kevin Duffie was an assistant coach on the 2013 Canada Games team Darling played
on. In an interview, he said that much of Darling’s success came from his devoted work
ethic and willingness to sacrifice to reach his goals.

To reach the top, Duffie said, “It’s got to be everything that you put your time to.” And for
Darling, it was.

Duffie said Darling was selected to play for the Canada Games team when he was 14,
despite being two years younger than many of the other players. However, even though
he was physically smaller, Duffie said “skill wise and talent wise, he was still on par with…some of the best players in the country.”

Rowan Power has been Darling’s friend for about nine years after the pair met at a
basketball tryout when Power was 13. They went on to play together on the 2013
Canada Games team, and have maintained their friendship even after Darling moved to
the U.S. while Power remained in Nova Scotia.

Power now plays on Acadia University’s basketball team.

In an interview Power said that even as a young teenager, Darling was committed to
improving his game. He recalled how Darling practiced “more than anyone around.”

“Even from a really, really young age, he was always in the gym with a trainer, or by
himself, or with his dad. He was always, always working out,” Power said.

“I was always in awe that he was doing it, because we were still fairly young kids.”

Danny De Palma, the head coach of Mount Saint Vincent University’s men’s basketball
team and a coach with Basketball Nova Scotia, worked with Darling. De Palma said in
an interview that one of Darling’s most challenging sacrifices was leaving home in 2013
to play basketball at DeMatha Catholic High School – a well known high school in
Maryland, U.S. – where he was more likely to be spotted by scouts.

“Homesickness was a big thing for him,” De Palma said. “You’re essentially leaving your
family and friends for years.”

From DeMatha, Darling was selected to play at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham in 2016, then the University of Delaware in 2018, and now, finally, is playing
with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets in a two-way contract with the Greensboro Swarm, an
NBA G League team.

For Power, watching his childhood friend play in the NBA for the first time was a dream
come true.

“It was amazing,” Power said. “It’s every little young basketball player’s dream to play in
the NBA, and Nate and I had talked about him playing in the NBA for so long.”

Darling, 6-6, 200 pounds, most recently played with the Charlotte Hornets on March 24
where he scored a three-pointer in a game against the Houston Rockets.

Even before Darling got to the NBA, one thing De Palma said he admired about him
was his consistent humility.

“When he went to DeMatha and would come home in the summer, he was still the
same guy,” De Palma said. “Once he signed his deal with Charlotte, he is still the same
guy. I just really appreciate that.”

Duffie is glad to see the spotlight put on Darling.

“He deserves all the attention and credit that he’s getting right now,” Duffie said. “It’s
great for him to represent the province of Nova Scotia and even just Canada generally
in the NBA, and it’s inspiring to see what he’s doing.”

De Palma said he is sure that Darling has a long future ahead.

“Nate’s an asset on any team…What he brings to the game, any NBA team could
use,” De Palma said, adding, “I foresee him playing another 10, 15 years as a

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About the author

Anna Mandin

Anna Mandin is from Calgary, Alberta. She's a 2022 World Journalism Institute graduate and was a 2022 summer radio intern at World Magazine....

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    Super cool!!
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