Jusuf Nurkic Says Kendrick Perkins Would Be a 'Mascot' in Today's NBA After Criticism

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 30, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers forward Norman Powell, left, celebrates with center Jusuf Nurkic, right, during the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets in Portland, Ore., Saturday, May 29, 2021. The Blazers won 1115-95. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
AP Photo/Steve Dykes

Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic had a few choice words for ex-NBA big man (and current ESPN analyst) Kendrick Perkins on Saturday after the commentator recently said that he and Blazers teammate Enes Kanter were the "worst defensive bigs" in the NBA.

Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report provided the remarks:

Sean Highkin @highkin

Jusuf Nurkic references "clowns" who say he was "the worst defensive player in the league." Asked who he's referring to: "The guy at ESPN. The big fella. Perkins. I guess if he was in the league today he'd be a mascot. And I like him as a person."

Perkins made his comments after the Blazers' 120-115 loss to the Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Thursday:

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

Mike Malone flat out coached Terry Stotts!!! Nurkic and Kanter are the worse defensive bigs in the NBA! Btw shoutout to Austin Rivers tonight for proving all the haters wrong...I just remember them saying he was in the NBA because of his Pops. Carry the hell on...

Nuggets center and likely NBA MVP Nikola Jokic dropped 36 points on 12-of-24 shooting to lead Denver to the Game 3 victory.

However, Nurkic got the latest laugh against Perkins and his ex-team with the Blazers blowing out the Nuggets 115-95 on Saturday to even the series at two games apiece.

Jokic only had 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting as Denver fell behind by as many as 33. Nurkic, who had 17 points, also had a pair of blocks and a steal as Portland outscored Denver by 32 when the Bosnian big man was on the court.

Perkins did respond to Nurkic's comments, citing Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's praise of his own defensive prowess when the ESPN analyst played for the Boston Celtics:

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

Hey big @bosnianbeast27 you still had SIMILAC on your breath when I was putting in work, but keep working Big Fella you’ll get there!!! Carry on... pic.twitter.com/K3Mp1d37FW

Nurkic, who played for Denver from 2014-2017 before being traded to Portland, will now hope to help lead the Blazers to a win in Game 5, which will take place on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET at Denver's Ball Arena.