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Rudy Gobert Elbows Jusuf Nurkic in the Face in FIBA World Cup Game

Two NBA centers mix it up overseas with varying levels of sportsmanship.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Team France is taking on Team Bosnia-Herzegovina in FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying action today, and the matchup brings a clash of two established, prominent NBA centers: Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers. As expected, the big men are going at it hard. Thanks to Twitter user Alexander Chernykh (@chernykh), whose bio includes former player and coach, we can see that the 7-footers have strayed into a bit of extracurricular activity, as Gobert has been tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction for elbowing Nurkic in the face.

Here’s the tweet with the photos.

Gobert is hardly the first opponent to make contact with Nurkic’s mug. In fact, the Trail Blazers center has developed a reputation for absorbing blows, frequently seen grasping at his head and grimacing after receiving strikes worthy of MMA infighting.

You can find the boxscore for the game, updated for progress, here. All Blazers fans will hope the action settles down, so they receive their center intact this October.


The first half of today’s action brought Nurkic pain with that blow to the face, but the second half saw the center send the pain right back to France with a nasty, posterizing slam. In the fourth quarter, Nurk pump-faked at the top of the key, drove down the middle and attacked Vincent Poirier over the top for the throwdown. The highlight — tweeted in a video from FIBA Basketball World Cup — received an “OH MY GOODNESS” reaction from the commentator.

Blazers fans, is this the best dunk of Nurkic’s career?