He was forced out of Denver by fellow big man Nikola Jokic, who ended up becoming the Nugget’s, main man. At the time, Nurk was faced with the challenge of fixing his reputation, which made it seem as if he was a discontent player while in Denver.
In an exclusive Basketball Network interview, Nurkic revealed how his relationship with Damian Lillard helped him find his footing in the league and how their friendship developed into a brotherhood.
On his first day in Portland, the Blazers were facing the Hawks. After a long day of medical checkups and team bureaucracy, Jusuf finally walked into the Blazers film-room, where he was greeted by a young super-star that would go on to be instrumental in his development on and off the court.
Nurk went on to explain how having someone like Dame show him the ropes was crucial for the swift and successful adaptation of his game in his new found team.
“Off the floor, the coach can teach you a lot, but when someone is [really] on the floor with you to show you what you’re doing wrong, and how you’re supposed to be doing it… I think that’s probably why I have so much success in Portland.
As much as I wanted to succeed here, I think at the same time, he [Dame] understood how much I can help that team. He would always be by my side, always tell me the truth. For me, that was really helpful to have someone tell me ‘Stop, bullshitting.’ because sometimes we all have some things we try to find excuses for and he would be like ‘Nah, there’s no excuses here.”Jusuf Nurkic, 1-ON-1 with JUSUF NURKIC
Seeing as how Nurk along with his captain put up great numbers during the Blazer’s short-lived NBA Bubble playoff run, it is safe to say that Lillard’s influence on the young star has been nothing but positive.
The two appear to be getting closer and closer thanks to the leadership style practiced by Dame, which is mostly based around the fact that he is a genuine person capable of building genuine, long-lasting relationships with his teammates that transcend the court.
I mean the fact that Nurkic refers to Dame as ‘Babo’ (Bosnian for father) and that Lillard’s baby son only lets ‘Uncle Nurk’ carry him around should speak volumes to anyone questioning their brotherhood.