Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic has spent the last seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers but he’s starting a new chapter with the Phoenix Suns after being sent there as part of the Damian Lillard trade.
Although he’s been playing in the NBA since 2014, it’s easy to imagine that the 29-year-old still finds instances where he’s learning what it’s like to live in America.
During Phoenix’s media day on Monday, Nurkic was asked a softball question about what still puzzles him about Americans and he turned it into a very thoughtful and resonant answer about our country’s unhealthy obsession with guns.
— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) October 2, 2023
After discussing the differences in weather and building sizes in major cities, the Bosnian NBA player shifted gears into his confusion about America’s abundance of firearms.
“I still don’t know why people have so many guns,” said Nurkic. “I feel like, I still don’t understand to this day, because I feel the kids should be safe in our schools. I think personally, when you see even the fake guns…on social media and kids in schools, it’s a bad thing and sometimes you can’t control certain things with this media, all the social media we have platforms, but I think our kids, if we can, secure them the better world going forward it will definitely be without guns because all these wars around the world is definitely not good for anyone.”
While Nurkic will almost certainly get some pushback from certain corners of the internet, not to mention many people in Arizona, he’s got a fair point. As SB Nation’s James Dator noted, Bosnia and Herzegovina have a rate of 0.4 homicides by firearms per 100,000 population. The homicide rate in his new home of Phoenix was 13.56 per 100,000 people in 2022.
Ultimately, the answer probably wasn’t meant to be a statement of any kind. Nurkic was just answering the question honestly in the moment. But it’s pretty refreshing to see an answer like that in such a controlled media environment.