Monday evening, midway through the second overtime of a double-overtime game, Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers went up for a shot and landed awkwardly and injured his left leg. This gruesome injury (don’t watch it if you haven’t seen it already), brought back sickening reminders of Gordon Hayward’s injury on opening night of the 2017-18 season. Following the game, Portland announced that Nurkic suffered compound fractures of his left tibia and fibula. The nature of the injury will obviously cost Nurkic the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
Throughout Monday evening into Tuesday, several NBA players reached out to Nurkic via Twitter to share thoughts and prayers of encouragement for the Blazers big man. One of those players was the Celtics own Hayward:
Zelim ti brz oporavak brate @bosnianbeast27— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) March 26, 2019
That message roughly translates from Bosnian to English as “I wish you a quick recovery brother.”
Much like how Paul George spoke with Hayward to share his experiences on recovering from his own broken leg, Hayward seemingly has started a similar process with Nurkic. It’s a reminder that as much as NBA players battle each other on the basketball court, they are a brotherhood. Whenever a player goes down, the rest have his back with support.
Hayward is in his first full season back from his injury and has had an up-and-down year to this point. He’s averaging 25.5 minutes and scoring 10.9 point per game. While there have been flashes of brilliance, as seen by three games of 30 or more points, it’s been a frustratingly inconsistent comeback for Hayward. This was to be expected, as his return to play also suffered setbacks with additional procedures late in the recovery process.
As George said at the time, and continues to say, it takes time. A lot of the hurdles the player has to clear are mental, as well as physical. It’s a long road back, but Nurkic will have plenty of support along the way, including from Hayward.