When Jusuf Nurkic arrived in Denver a little more than two years ago, he liked many things about the city. He was pleased to discover how sunny it was. He liked the natural beauty here and in the rest of the state.
One thing he couldn’t stand, however, was the traffic.
Denver’s population in July 2014 was roughly 664,000 and rapidly growing by the month. Nurkic didn’t want to constantly deal with all those people on the road. So he decided to make a purchase to help him bypass them: a new bicycle.
Nurkic went up to Boulder, and because he’s a 7-foot man who weighs approximately 275 pounds, had one specially ordered. He bought a black mountain bike. Ever since, he’s become part of the roughly 6.6 percent of Denver residents who sometimes get around downtown by bike.
Nurkic couldn’t remember the specific dimensions of the bike, but Nuggets head coach Mike Malone provided some perspective when he confirmed Thursday, “It’s a very big bike.”
Nurkic mostly uses it to get to and from work. When he wasn’t overseas playing for his native country Bosnia and Herzegovina this summer, he worked out twice a day at the Nuggets’ practice facility inside the bowels of the Pepsi Center. A lot of the time, he preferred to commute by bike.
“When you go outside, Denver is crazy,” Nurkic said. “I hear there are thousands of people per month coming into Denver.”
In Nurkic’s first year in Denver alone, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the population increased 18,582 people, or roughly 2.8 percent. That rapid rise has contributed heavily to the traffic commuters face in the city.
Hence, the bike.
“It’s funny,” Malone said. “I remember years ago, (7-foot-6) Shawn Bradley had a custom bike, and somebody stole it. How many guys can ride Shawn Bradley’s bike. Who stole that bike? What are you going to do with it?”
A couple Nuggets’ players own custom bikes, according to Malone. The city is so bike-able, and Nurkic and his other players seem to enjoy cruising around on their custom whips. So Malone doesn’t have any problem with it.
“It’s a great place to bike,” Malone said. “As long as he doesn’t get hit by a car, I’m happy.”
Nurkic plans to ride until the weather gets too cold.
“It’s fun,” said Nurkic, whose nicknamed “The Bosnian Beast.” “Especially when you have somebody to bike with.”