Following the Trail Blazers’ victory on Friday, center Jusuf Nurkic revealed that his grandmother is in a battle with COVID-19 back in Bosnia. Portland’s pivot explained that her situation has worsened and her status is weighing heavily on him. Inside the NBA’s bubble, Nurkic’s teammates have rallied to his side.
The Athletic’s Jason Quick highlighted how CJ McCollum focused on raising Nurkic’s spirits after he noticed a change in his demeanor.
“His mood changed immediately,” CJ McCollum said. “I noticed it a few days ago, so I went to his room to check on him. That’s when he told me what was happening in his life.”
“Obviously, his heart is somewhere else, but his body is here,” McCollum said. “So we just try to uplift him. It’s a tough situation for him right now to be so far away from his family and be out here competing. So I give him a lot of credit to be out here battling with a heavy heart.”
Nurkic also explained to Quick that the news about his grandmother is not an attempt to garner attention. Instead, he wants his personal experience with COVID-19 to serve as a wake up call to others.
“I’m not trying to get attention with all this, it’s a story just for me,” Nurkic said. “But people can save lives. It’s a little thing. Be smart, man … I don’t want to focus this on my grandma, but I want people to know this is a serious thing. We would not be here in this bubble if this pandemic is not real.”
You can read Quick’s full story on the subject at The Athletic (subscription required).