Top Ad
I DIG Radio
Listen live to the best music from around the world!
I DIG Style
Learn about the latest fashion styles and more...

Blazers' Nurkic stars in return despite heavy heart

Written by 
Published in Breaking News
Friday, 31 July 2020 22:38

In what was already an emotional outing with it being his first official game back since breaking his leg in March 2019, Jusuf Nurkic revealed after the Portland Trail Blazers' 140-135 overtime victory Friday over the Memphis Grizzlies that his grandmother is in a coma with COVID-19.

"The last couple of days have been the toughest days of my life. My grandma got COVID and she's in a coma," Nurkic said. "I think people don't realize the s--- is real out there. We've been fortunate to be here in a safe environment, we're tested every day, but please take care of yourself, wear a damn mask if you need to wear it."

Nurkic played 33 minutes in his return, providing the Blazers much-needed size and rim protection (six blocks), while also diversifying Portland's offense (18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists) before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

Nurkic said he found out the Friday of the Blazers' first scrimmage during the NBA restart about his 67-year-old grandmother, Hana, who lives in Bosnia.

"His mood changed immediately," Portland guard CJ McCollum said. After finding out, Nurkic said he didn't sleep at all that night.

McCollum said he went to Nurkic's room to check on him because it was so obvious something was going on.

"His heart is somewhere else, but his body is here, so we'll just try to uplift him," McCollum said. "Tough situation for him to be so far away from his family and be out here competing, so give him a lot of credit for coming out here battling with a heavy heart."

Nurkic, 25, said he was FaceTiming his grandmother and was told about her condition, but she said she didn't want to go to the hospital.

"She didn't want to go to the hospital in the first place and finally I said, 'If you don't go, I come,'" Nurkic said. "I think that kind of made up her mind to go to the hospital. Hopefully it's not too late."

Nurkic's return for the Blazers is a game-changer as they try to make a push for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And the fact Friday's game was against the Grizzlies, the team they're chasing, only made it that much more important. But for Nurkic, it was bigger than just that as he made his way back from the devastating injury in which he suffered compound fractures to the tibia and fibula of his lower left leg.

"I'm just glad we won the damn game, man," Nurkic said. "I've been preparing for this moment for the last 16 months."

But even with that, and the concern for his grandmother's condition, Nurkic tried to keep the focus on the floor.

"It's family, man. Obviously the court is the safest place for me. I've been through a lot in my life and it's not going to change my mindset, it'll be the same on the floor," he said. "We've got to deal with all that different stuff in our life and still be there. The team is counting on me."

Nurkic started his postgame availability wanting to talk about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic and encourage everyone to take precautions to stem the spread of the virus.

"I'm not trying to get attention with all this, or this is just for me, I'm just sure that people can save lives," he said. "This little thing, if you wear a mask and visit your grandfather or grandma, if you've been around someone, don't go in there. Be smart, man. Don't take this for granted.

"People don't understand how serious this s--- is," he said. "We would not be here in the bubble if this thing is not real."

Nurkic was a key part of a momentum shift in the fourth quarter, finishing a soaring dunk and letting out a visceral roar on his way back down the floor.

"He's one of my closest friends, so of course I was there for him and we had that conversation and the fact he's still been able to show up and get his work done, be present at practice and come out and have the kind of game he had that just shows how much it means to him," Portland guard Damian Lillard said. "With everything he has going with his family at home and then him being here in the bubble and not have played in 16 months, but he still came out here and had this type of performance despite everything that's weighing him down, I think that makes it more impressive."

In a highly competitive, intense game, Carmelo Anthony drilled crucial back-to-back 3s in the final minutes of regulation and McCollum took over in the extra frame to pull the Blazers a game closer to Memphis. There was a flurry of technical fouls in the second half, with Memphis' Brandon Clarke and Portland's McCollum and Zach Collins all getting whistled for taunting.

"I think they've got to do a better job of balancing that," McCollum said of the officiating in an environment with no fans. "There are no fans, but we're all competitive people. I got a technical and I didn't say anything. But we've got to be smarter, we've got to react better I guess and try to contain our emotions."

Said Lillard: "I think because there was no fans and there's not a lot of noise, that's gonna distract the referees from what's right in front of them. The whistle was a little bit more hot. They didn't give us much leash when guys were celebrating or maybe say a word or two to somebody, it was like, quick. You saw techs came left and right. But maybe that's they're coming out to try to control the action or control the back and forth, but hopefully it eases up."

Read 22 times

Leave a comment


US teen Konrad in Barca squad for UCL vs. Napoli

US teen Konrad in Barca squad for UCL vs. Napoli

United States youth international Konrad de la Fuente has been handed his first call up to Barcelona...

Bolt: I didn't get fair chance as footballer

Bolt: I didn't get fair chance as footballer

Olympic and world record holder Usain Bolt has said he didn't get a fair chance at his trial with th...

Pulisic, Rashford up for PL Young Player award

Pulisic, Rashford up for PL Young Player award

Chelsea's Christian Pulisic and Manchester United's Marcus Rashford are both up for the Premier Leag...


Lowe's 10 things: The champs, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and snazzy socks

Lowe's 10 things: The champs, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren and snazzy socks

Here are 10 things I like and don't like from the NBA restart:1. The champs' defense: the most excit...

Dame: Blazers' rise why I wanted playoff chance

Dame: Blazers' rise why I wanted playoff chance

Back in late May, before the NBA's bubble plan was official, before the restart format was known, Po...


Does the Dodgers' defense stack up among the best in recent memory?

Does the Dodgers' defense stack up among the best in recent memory?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best lineup in the National League and maybe the best pitching staf...

Yanks' Boone grumbles over Phils fans' air horn

Yanks' Boone grumbles over Phils fans' air horn

The Philadelphia Phillies might not have fans cheering them on inside Citizens Bank Park, but that d...

Sports Leagues

  • FIFA

    Fédération Internationale de Football Association
  • NBA

    National Basketball Association
  • ATP

    Association of Tennis Professionals
  • MLB

    Major League Baseball
  • ITTF

    International Table Tennis Federation

Sponsored Links

I DIG® Newspapers
I Dig® Newspapers, stay up to date with the latest news from around the world.
I DIG® Casino
I Dig® Casino, explore our online casino games, play a wide range of free slots and casino games at our online casino today.
I DIG® Radio
I Dig® Radio HD is the only place in the internet where you can find free, super high bit rate internet radio stations from around the world. On I Dig® Radio HD you can find free radio stations streaming at 256kbps.

About Us

I Dig® is a leading global brand that makes it more enjoyable to surf the internet, conduct transactions and access, share, and create information.  Today I Dig® attracts millions of users every month.


Phone: (800) 737. 6040
Fax: (800) 825 5558
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.