After more than a year away from the court due to a gruesome leg injury and the coronavirus pandemic, Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic finally made his season debut at Disney World on Friday.
He apparently did so with a heavy heart, as he revealed to reporters after the game that his 67-year-old grandmother is in a coma with COVID-19. He reportedly even considered exiting the bubble to be with her.
The Bosnian big man had one piece of advice for his followers in light of that fact: “Wear the damn mask.”
"My grandma got COVID. She’s in a hospital ... in a coma. I think people don’t realize that s--- is real out there. … Please take care of yourself. Wear a damn mask if you need to wear it."
—Jusuf Nurkic on COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/W7XpUaI9qJ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 1, 2020
“I want to say something for the record,” Nurkic said. “Last couple days were the hardest days of my life. My grandma got COVID. She’s in the hospital. She’s in a coma. I think people don’t realize this s--- is real out there.”
Nurkic went on to say he considered leaving the bubble after hearing the news. An exit from the bubble with an excused absence would have meant a mandatory four-day quarantine for Nurkic upon return, as well as the obvious risks of traveling during a pandemic.
Nurkic isn’t alone among NBA players in watching family members experience dangerous cases of COVID-19. Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother died from the virus in April, and the big man has used her story to urge fans to realize the threat of the pandemic is real.
Long-awaited return for Jusuf Nurkic
The last time Nurkic had appeared in an NBA game was March 25, 2019. Amid a career season, Nurkic experienced a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula while coming down from a rebound in a double-overtime game.
Nurkic was on track to return on March 15 earlier this season, but Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test shut the NBA season down four days before that date. It would be four months until the Blazers’ next game.
🌪️ BIG FELLA SPIN CYCLE 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/oJB9NBIG1W
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 31, 2020
Nurkic finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in a win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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