Jusuf Nurkić was born on August 23, 1994, in Tuzla, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. He is a center in the NBA.
Nurkić began playing basketball at 14 years of age, after Bosnian sports agent Enes Trnovčević took him to Slovenia and gave him an opportunity to play. He played in the youth categories for the Slovenian team Zlatorog Laško. In February 2012, he was briefly loaned to Union Olimpija in order to play the Nike International Junior Tournament which was held in Belgrade. Nurkić attracted attention internationally by averaging 18.8 points and 11 rebounds over 5 games. Shortly after the tournament, he parted ways with Zlatorog Laško. Just days after, it was revealed that Nurkić was training with Croatian team Cedevita.
In October 2012, after a few months of training with Croatian team Cedevita, Nurkić signed a four-year contract with the club. In his first season with Cedevita, he had a small role in the team under head coach Aleksandar Petrović, mostly playing in garbage time. In the Euroleague, he played only 6 games, averaging 1.8 points per game. In January 2013, Nurkić was loaned to Zadar until the end of the season on his initiative, hoping to play more minutes. In his second season, under new head coach Jasmin Repeša, he had breakthroughs in the regional Adriatic League, averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, for only 16.3 minutes spent in the court. This was attributed mainly to foul troubles and conditioning issues. In 2014, Nurkić was nominated for the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Award.
On June 26, 2014, Nurkić was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He was later traded to the Denver Nuggets on draft night. On July 31, 2014, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Nuggets. On October 29, 2014, he made his NBA debut, recording 5 points and 7 rebounds in an 89–79 win over the Detroit Pistons. On January 1, 2015, he recorded his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to the Chicago Bulls. Two days later, he recorded his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with 5 blocks in a 114–85 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. He went on to record two more double-doubles in February. Nurkić was named a participant in the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge as a replacement for Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder but declined to play in the event for personal reasons. In the Nuggets' final game of the season on April 15, he scored a season-high 17 points in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. On May 20, he underwent successful surgery to repair a partially torn left patellar tendon.
On October 11, 2015, the Nuggets exercised their third-year team option on Nurkić's rookie scale contract, extending the contract through the 2016–17 season. He made his 2015–16 season debut on 2 January against the Golden State Warriors, has been inactive for the first two months of the season due to recovering from his torn left patellar tendon. Four days later, he recorded 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a 78–74 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. On March 12, he scored a season-high 17 points in a 116–100 win over the Washington Wizards. He topped that mark twice in late March, scoring 18 points against the Los Angeles Lakers on March 25, and 19 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 27. On April 8, he scored a career-high 21 points in a 102–98 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
In the Nuggets' 2016–17 season opener on October 26, 2016, Nurkić set a new career-high with 23 points in a 107–102 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Five days later, he grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds in a 105–102 loss to the Toronto Raptors. After Nikola Jokić emerged as Denver's starting center, Nurkić was demoted to the bench. The demotion to the bench didn't sit well with Nurkić, and he wasn't afraid to voice his displeasure with the situation, requesting to be traded twice, first in April 2016 and then again in December 2016. The Nuggets eventually granted Nurkić his wish ten days before the 2017 trade deadline.
On February 13, 2017, Nurkić was traded, along with the rights to the Memphis Grizzlies' 2017 first-round draft pick, to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-round pick and cash considerations. He made his debut for the Trail Blazers two days later, recording 13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in a 111–88 loss to the Utah Jazz. He made his first start for the Trail Blazers in the following game on February 23, 2017, recording 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 112–103 win over the Orlando Magic. On March 2, 2017, he had 18 points, 12 rebounds, a career-high six assists, and five blocks in a 114–109 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. On March 9, 2017, he had a career-high 28 points and 20 rebounds in a 114–108 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He also had eight assists and six blocks, becoming the first NBA player to post at least 28 points, 20 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 blocks in a game since Charles Barkley pulled the feat in November 1986. On March 28, 2017, he set a new career-high with 33 points to go with 16 rebounds in a 122–113 win over his former team, the Denver Nuggets. Three days later, he was ruled out for the rest of the regular season with a non-displaced fracture in his right leg.
On April 22, 2017, Nurkić returned to action in Game 3 of the Trail Blazers' first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, after having missed the final seven games of the regular season and the first two playoff games at Golden State. He finished with two points and 11 rebounds, as the Trail Blazers went down 3–0 in the series with a 119–113 loss. He went on to miss Game 4 of the series, as the Trail Blazers bowed out of the playoffs with a 4–0 series loss to the Warriors.
On November 24, 2017, Nurkić recorded 29 points and 15 rebounds in a 127–125 win over the Brooklyn Nets. On January 18, 2018, he had 19 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in a 100–86 win over the Indiana Pacers. On 9 April 2018, he had 20 points and 19 rebounds in an 88–82 loss to the Nuggets. In-Game 4 of the Trail Blazers' first-round playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans, Nurkić recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds in a 131–123 loss. The loss eliminated Portland from the playoffs, as they lost the series in a four-game sweep.
On July 6, 2018, Nurkić re-signed with the Trail Blazers. On October 22, 2018, he recorded 22 points and 18 rebounds in a 125–124 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards. On November 18, 2018, he had 13 points, 14 rebounds and matched his career-high with eight assists in a 119–109 win over the Wizards. Two days later, he had 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 118–114 win over the New York Knicks, thus recording his career-best fifth straight double-double. On December 27, he had 27 points and 12 rebounds in a 110–109 overtime win over the Warriors. On January 1, 2019, he had 24 points and a career-high 23 rebounds to go with seven assists, five blocks and five steals in a 113–108 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings, becoming the only player to post such a stat line in NBA history. On January 11, he had 11 points, 11 rebounds and tied career highs with eight assists and six blocks in a 127–96 win over the Charlotte Hornets, becoming the third player in NBA history to record such a stat line in fewer than 30 minutes. On January 16, he recorded his first career triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 129–112 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On March 25, 2019, Nurkić suffered a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula in the second overtime of the Trail Blazers' 148–144 win over the Brooklyn Nets. According to a team press release he has no expected return date. Nurkić had 32 points and 16 rebounds before the injury. , He did not make his return until Friday, 31 July 2020, in a 140–135 overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nurkić was named MVP of the FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship Division B held in 2012, where he averaged 19.4 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He was also MVP of the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship Division B, held in 2014, where he averaged 21.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. He played a minor role in the senior team of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the FIBA EuroBasket 2013 qualification but did not make the squad for the final tournament due to the conflict with the board of the Bosnian National Basketball Association. Nurkić represented the senior Bosnia and Herzegovina national basketball team during Eurobasket 2017 qualification. He averaged 19.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.
Jusuf Nurkic was discovered because of his dad, Hariz Nurkic, who is a police officer in Bosnia. He is 7 feet tall and weighs over 400 pounds. Bosnian sports agent Enes Trnovcevic read a story about Hariz Nurkic and how he fought 8 different men at once. He was intrigued. Back then, Nurkic has never played basketball before, he did not know the least thing about the game, and couldn’t shoot either. But Nurkic was curious about the game now, so he got a coach who taught him all the basics, like how to shoot. As everyone knows, Nurkic really ended up becoming an NBA player.
Nurkic has used his opportunity to offer a helping hand to the Bosnian community, which struggles in times of COVID-19 crisis, through several donations. Some of these include $50,000 worth of PPE kits to hospitals and $40,000 to help rebuild the roof at the largest hospital near his hometown.
The Blazers star has also contributed to the construction of homes for three single mothers and families, has donated 5,000 food packages helping 12,000 people, while he has also donated mammogram machines to Bosnian hospitals.
Nurkic grew up during the times of the Bosnian War and never forgets his duty to give back to his community in whichever way possible.