PORTLAND – Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has been chosen as the recipient of the 2018-19 Maurice Lucas Award, the team announced Sunday. Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey; and Pam Lucas, widow of Maurice Lucas, presented the award to Nurkic during Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals series versus the Denver Nuggets at Moda Center.
The annual award was created in 2010-11 to honor the Trail Blazers player who best represents the indomitable spirit of Maurice Lucas through his contributions on the court and in the community, as well as in support of his teammates and the organization. In recognition of the award, the Trail Blazers will make a $5,000 donation to the Islamic Bosniaks Educational & Cultural Organization (IBECO), a community organization chosen by Nurkic.
“The connection our fans feel to Jusuf extends beyond his on-court performance,” said McGowan. “Jusuf is authentic and accessible in our community and his presence and commitment are making a positive and lasting impact.”
“Even prior to the injury he is heroically working his way back from, Nurk was the ideal recipient of this award,” said Olshey. “Since his arrival in Portland, his toughness, physicality and impact on both ends of the floor have transformed our team into one of the top teams in the Western Conference.”
Nurkic suffered a season-ending injury to his left leg on March 25 in the Trail Blazers double-overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets. In 72 games this season prior to his injury (all starts), Nurkic averaged career highs of 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.99 steals and 1.43 blocks. He shot a career-best 50.8% from the field and 77.3% from the foul line. Nurkic posted a career-high 36 double-doubles and led the team in rebounds 46 times, assists 12 times and points eight times. He was also ranked 13th in the NBA in rebounding and 15th in blocks before being sidelined.
Since his arrival in Portland three seasons ago, Nurkic has embraced Rip City as his own, sharing his time, resources and infectious smile to inspire multiple nonprofit groups. Nurkic joined with the Trail Blazers Foundation, Nike, Portland Parks & Recreation and Verde earlier this season to unveil the first of numerous refurbished basketball courts in public parks around the greater Portland community. He has also donated more than 800 game tickets to the local Bosnian community and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) this season. For the second year in a row, Nurkic visited a local Ronald McDonald House to join patients and their families with a visit from Pile of Puppies, a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring joy to chronically and terminally ill children by surrounding them with puppies.
Former Trail Blazers All-Star Maurice Lucas passed away on October 31, 2010 at the age of 58. A beloved member of the franchise and the community, “The Enforcer” was a central figure on the Trail Blazers 1976-77 NBA Championship team. The Trail Blazers honored Lucas by retiring his uniform number (No. 20) on November 4, 1988.
Lucas averaged 15.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.72 blocked shots over five seasons (1976-80, 1987-88) as a Trail Blazer. During Portland’s 1976-77 NBA Championship season, Lucas led the team in scoring (20.2), field goals made (8.0), free throws made (4.2), offensive rebounds (2.4) and minutes (36.2). Selected to the All-Star Game in three straight seasons from 1977-79, Lucas is one of six three-time All-Stars in Trail Blazers history (Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Clyde Drexler, Brandon Roy, Sidney Wicks). He served as an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers for five seasons from 2005-10, and previously in 1988-89.
MAURICE LUCAS AWARD WINNERS
2018-19 – Jusuf Nurkic
2017-18 – Evan Turner
2016-17 – Al-Farouq Aminu
2015-16 – Ed Davis
2014-15 – LaMarcus Aldridge
2013-14 – Robin Lopez
2012-13 – Damian Lillard
2011-12 – Wesley Matthews
2010-11 – LaMarcus Aldridge
– via Portland Trail Blazers