Jusuf Nurkic announced that his grandmother had passed prior to the Trail Blazers’ play-in game against the Grizzlies.
Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic announced on Instagram prior to Saturday’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, that his grandmother has passed. She died as a result of contracting the coronavirus.
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“I didn’t want to play,” Nurkic said after the game. “I think she made me play.”
Nurkic performed at the top of his game, leading the Blazers to a 126-122 victory. The big man tallied an impressive 22 points, 21 rebounds, and 6 assists.
“Obviously, it’s emotional,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him; as it’s very difficult, been hanging over his head for a while. There was never talk of not playing.
“You could tell that it was on his mind. But other than talking about it briefly before the game, that was it.”
Nurkic revealed that his grandmother had been battling the virus on August 2: “I’m praying for her,” Nurkic said. “It’s family. Obviously the court is the safest place for me. I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s not going to change my mindset. It will be the same when I’m on the floor.”
The Trail Blazers will now play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.