Nurkic, key after the death of his grandmother: "I did not want to play"

The Bosnian center acknowledged after the game that he was not in a mood to play the play-in. Despite this, he had 21 points and 22 rebounds, decisive for the Oregon victory.


The Portland Trail Blazers sealed their ticket to the first round of the playoffs on Saturday. Those from Oregon had to face the innovative play-in designed by the NBA to give greater competitive incentive to the 8 games that each team had to play in the bubble. Terry Stotts's men finished the regular season in eighth position in the West, outstripping the Grizzlies by half a game, who landed in Orlando with 3 and a half games of income over Stotts'.

However, Tennessee's 2 wins in 8 games, added to Oregon's 6 in 8, prompted an exchange of qualifying roles. The Blazers would reach the play-in with the possibility of qualifying by winning the first game. Said and done. Stotts' men won 126-122 and sealed their place in the first round of the playoffs. In it, the Lakers who have finished as leaders of the Western Conference await, despite leaving certain doubts in their game developed in the bubble.

Before traveling to Orlando, many players announced their resignation to move to the bubble. Injuries, family issues, the difficult social situation that the United States was going through at that time or the fear of being infected were some of the reasons that those absent. Jusuf Nurkic, center of the Blazers, was in a similar situation but despite this, he did decide to be with his teammates. The Tuzla player's grandmother had tested positive for coronavirus, was in a coma and her health was more than delicate.

A few hours before playing the first game of the West play-in against the Grizzlies, the Bosnian player announced on social networks the death of his grandmother. The player said goodbye through the social network Instagram, in which he uploaded a photograph with his grandmother accompanied by the message: "We are all from Allah and we return to him."

After the duel, the Bosnian acknowledged that he did not want to play the game and that doubts invaded him about whether or not to travel to the bubble. Finally, he did, convinced that his grandmother would be looking forward to seeing him play: "I didn't want to play from the beginning. She made me play, I guess. I got carried away with my decisions. Staying here, being with the team, she has been a motivation for it. I am very proud of the victory and of qualifying for the playoffs, that is why we had come, "he acknowledged.

The player from Tuzla showed his enormous frustration with the situation of the pandemic and the lack of social awareness that it denotes in some citizens: "The reason we are here is the pandemic. People have taken for granted too soon what is happening in the world. The last 2 days have been the worst of my life. My grandmother had COVID and was in a coma. People do not realize the reality, "he said.

Nurkic's sporting resurrection in the bubble has been sidereal. A knee injury in March 2019 had taken him away from the courts and he had to wait until July, coronavirus through, to feel like a basketball player again. Far from noticing the lack of rhythm, Nurkic has had a capital weight in the future of Terry Stotts' men. With an average of more than 31 minutes of playing time on the court, the Bosnian has become the third-highest scoring and assists player in the Blazers, as well as the second-highest rebounder in Terry Stotts' team.

His 22 points, 21 rebounds and 6 assists were decisive in the Blazers' triumph over the Grizzlies, which marked the move to the playoffs. The Bosnian already went into the break with a double-double, having scored 15 points and collected 17 rebounds. His work in the paint at the offensive level and his importance in the defensive system of the Portland team are decisive in the future of the Blazers in the bubble.

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