Portland Trail Blazers Media Day 2022 has come and gone, but it didn’t depart without a conversation with returning center Jusuf Nurkic. The Bosnian Beast will join a revamped lineup this season, but he talked more about the past, his love for the city of Portland, and a general sense of stability at this point in his career.
Danny Marang of Blazer’s Edge and 1080 The Fan tweeted the center’s thoughts from the podium.
Like most Blazers, Nurkic spent some time talking about teammate Damian Lillard’s recovery from injury:
Dame, he probably want aware of how hurt he was not that he didn’t know but he’d dealt with it for a couple of years.
The way I see it, when I went down with my injury they said I’d never be the same again - I see the similar thing with Dame. Maybe that motivates him more?
He also praised Lillard mightily, while hat-tipping other fellow starters:
I’m excited to play alongside Grant and I’ve played with GP, adding an alley oop to the roster - having guys that weren’t necessarily the best name wise but we were beating better teams because of better chemistry.
Our goal is to play with each other. To use Dame to be the best version of himself - and the only way we’ll ever win a championship is with him there. He’s the best player we have.
Nurkic also referenced the opportunity to play with his national team, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in international competition this summer:
On playing with his national team - it’s something special. It does give me more basketball games then a lot of guys during the summer. For mentally I’m already in the season - I’ve been there for like 2 months.
Nurk made mention of the new, four-year contract extension he inked this summer:
It’s been good for me to know that I’m good enough to be here for a long time - it’s a place that’s more than just basketball, Oregon has become a home for me. Even if this extension didn’t happen, I’d still come here and have a home here.
As Sean Highkin relays, Nurkic appears to value stability:
Jusuf Nurkic on the long-term security of his new contract: “I don’t take those things for granted, being in one place. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for guys to jump around the league, but for me personally I don’t think that’s the case.”
Per Highkin, Nurkic values his head coach’s approach to the locker room:
Jusuf Nurkic on Chauncey Billups: “What I love is the honesty. One thing I really noticed with Chauncey from day one is not really any ‘capping.’ He doesn’t say stuff he doesn’t mean.”
Basketball is just a game it’s not who I am - it’s sad for me that I see people out, not be out there trying to figure out how to make things better.
As a society we struggle everyday - not being able to help people.
I saw a couple thousand kids don’t have shoes, so I try to buy them shoes, books - build a basketball court there - you could just see it was possible.
I didn’t plan to go there, it was a vacation but I was just shocked and I as to do something.
I’m building a school back in Bosnia where civil war was very bad - I want to help them have an opportunity no matter what religion, white, black- just to have a chance.
Check around the site for more summaries of Media Day 2022 interviews!