As the Portland Trail Blazers and Brooklyn Nets engaged in a double-overtime game on Monday night, Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffered a gruesome left leg injury on a simple basketball play. As the Blazers big man was coming down after jumping for an offensive rebound, he landed on his left leg in a very awkward manner and crumpled down to the floor.
Competitors on both teams immediately recognized the severity of the injury, as nearby players turned and sprinted away from the scene of the injury. The arena fell silent - aside from some well-timed "Jusuf Nurkic" chants - and Nurkic was promptly taken off of the floor on a stretcher.
On Monday morning, the Blazers announced that Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula and will be out indefinitely as he works his way back to full health. He will miss the remainder of the current campaign, which continues on Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls (8 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass add-on), as well as the postseason. The injury brings back memories of those suffered by Gordon Hayward in 2017 and the Paul George in 2014. Though both gruesome, both players were ultimately able to work their way back to the floor in due time.
Nonetheless, the loss is a big one for the Blazers, who are in the midst of a fight for homecourt advantage in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Blazers head coach Terry Stots called the injury - and the resulting loss of Nurkic's services - "devastating," while Blazers All-Star guard Dame Lillard felt physically ill for his teammate.
"It made me sick to my stomach," Lillard said on the injury, via ESPN. "I think he tried to tip it in, he crashed the glass and I saw him hit the ground and roll over real quick, and I thought maybe he got hit in the face or something again. As I was walking over there, I saw everybody else turn around real quick and walk away, and then I looked and saw his leg -- and you just hate to see that happen to him.
"You hate to see him have to go through something like that, having his best season in the NBA. We're going down a crucial stretch in the season, trying to obviously secure our playoff spot, find our position and then have a postseason, so seeing something like that happen to him ... You never want to see that for your friend or teammate, and then especially as a player, you don't want to see anyone have to go through that."
Prior to the injury, Nurkic was having the best season of his young career. The 24-year-old had posted career-highs with 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1 steal per game while starting all of the 71 games he had appeared in at center for the team this season. He was the team's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer.