Trail Blazers

Zach Collins has empathetic Jusuf Nurkic to lean on after undergoing ankle surgery

Trail Blazers

Injuries are part of the game.

We all know that.

But unfortunately, the injury bug has hit the Portland Trail Blazers hard over the last few years.

Last season, the injured duo of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins bonded even more than they already had while sitting on the Blazers bench in their street clothes.

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With Nurkic suffering his gruesome broken left leg in March of 2019 that took a year to rehab and Collins suffering a shoulder injury just three games into the 2019-20 season that took months to rehab, the two found themselves together on the bench (and always trying to look dapper).

But now that Collins underwent successful revision surgery Wednesday, an operation that occurred in Indianapolis by Dr. David Porter, Nurkic is there for him once again.  


Following Wednesday’s shootaround at Staples Center, Nurkic spoke with the media about the conversations he has had with Collins leading up to this week’s surgery.

The major thing is you’ve got to be patient now and work as much as you can to be in the right timeline.

Jusuf Nurkic’s advice for Zach Collins 

When the team announced the successful surgery Wednesday morning, it was also announced that the Trail Blazers 7-footer is out indefinitely.

Judging by the injury, it appears the earliest Collins could return after undergoing a surgery like this would be in the final weeks of the regular season or postseason, but the team and Collins will likely be very cautious.

And that was another piece of advice Nurkic had for Collins -- don't rush this rehab and focus on staying positive.

“I told him you just need to take your time and this time – no rush nothing and don’t try to make a stupid move [to rush back].”

Health his first – no matter what, that’s what I basically told him. It’s raining for him and it really looks like non-stop, but you’ve got to stay with it. You’ve got to keep your head up, keep working.

Jusuf Nurkic said after Wednesday’s shootaround

The mental aspect may be the hardest thing Collins will have to endure during the rehabilitation process. 

It was during the NBA restart in August when Collins left the Trail Blazers’ play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies after suffering the hairline medial malleolus stress fracture of his left ankle.

When training camp got underway for the 2020-21 season, the Trail Blazers and Collins were pleased to announce that his left ankle rehabilitation was going well and he was on track for a mid to late Jan. return.

That was before Collins’ setback.

However, now Collins can have the peace of mind that his ankle has been effectively treated, versus leaving a stress fracture up to chance to heal correctly.

Plus, as Nurkic pointed out Wednesday, Big Z is only 23-years-old.


He’s young first of all. We all feel bad for him… I know how much he wants to be out there on the floor. It just sucks.

Jusuf Nurkic

Collins appeared in 11 games (all starts) for the Trail Blazers last season, averaging 7.0 points and 6.3 rebounds.

The Bosnian Beast also mentioned that “It’s 2020, man,” while he added, “you’ve got to stick with it.”

Which is sound advice for anyone going through it in this difficult year.

But from one big fella to another one, Nurkic is not worried about Collins’ career in the least.

“He’s just a young guy, who's going to have a great career here in this league.”