Blood clots put Teletovic’s NBA career in jeopardy

Teletovic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season.

Teletovic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season.

In the past six months or so, I’ve become closely acquainted with the dangers of blood clots in the lungs.

Over the summer, a close family member wound up in the emergency room with chest pains that turned out to be the result of blood clots. And in no uncertain terms, the doctors made it clear that clotting in the lungs was a serious matter. In the fall, I had the privilege of interviewing Sheikh Qasim Hatem, an Islamic educator and community leader who played football at the University of Washington. Back in 2001, blood clotting in his lungs not only ended Hatem’s athletic career, it nearly ended his life.

Last week, another elite Muslim athlete was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs, putting his career in jeopardy.

Mirza Teletovic, a 29-year-old forward with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, had recently been suffering shortness of breath during games. While it seemed odd for a backup averaging just over 22 minutes per game to experience such difficulty, according to the New York Daily News it was assumed among the team that he was just out of shape.

But at the recommendation of Nets trainer Timmy Walsh, Teletovic underwent a CT scan while the team was on the road in Los Angeles, where the clotting was discovered.

“He could have gotten on the plane and he could have in fact died,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson, a seven-time NBA All-Star, added, “It was very shocking because I’ve never heard of athletes — especially if you’re working out every day — catch a blood clot. It’s just rare. Just to hear that, and then hear some of the things he was saying over the past week or so about how he can’t breathe, it’s kind of scary.”

Teletovic’s wife, Maja, has flown to L.A., where her husband will stay until doctors clear him to travel.

In two and a half seasons in the NBA, all with the Nets, Teletovic has averaged 7.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range. Last season the 6-foot-9 sharpshooter from Bosnia and Herzegovina was second on the team in three-pointers made (136) behind Johnson. Teletovic had three double-digit scoring games in Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series win over the Toronto Raptors, and in Game 2 of the Nets’ series loss to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, Teletovic dropped 20 points and six threes on the eventual Eastern Conference champions.

This season, Teletovic’s playing time has been up from a year ago, but his shooting percentages are down. He began with a bang, scoring 20 points in Brooklyn’s season opener against the Boston Celtics, and he played perhaps the best game of his career in a December victory over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs when he put up 26 points (five treys) and 15 rebounds.

When Qasim Hatem found out he had blood clots in his lungs, it wasn’t until after a near-death experience for the massive defensive lineman. He was ordered to sit out the following football season while doctors put him on blood-thinning medication, and although Hatem was eventually cleared medically to resume his career, he decided to retire from the sport.

Teletovic is expected to miss at least the rest of this NBA season. After that, his future is uncertain.

And recite to them the news of Abraham,
When he said to his father and his people, “What do you worship?”
They said, “We worship idols and remain to them devoted.”
He said, “Do they hear you when you supplicate,
Or do they benefit you, or do they harm?”
They said, “But we found our fathers doing thus.”
He said, “Then do you see what you have been worshipping,
You and your ancient forefathers?
“Indeed, they are enemies to me, except the Lord of the worlds,
Who created me, and He [it is who] guides me.
And it is He who feeds me and gives me drink.
And when I am ill, it is He who cures me,
And who will cause me to die and then bring me to life,
And who I aspire that He will forgive me my sin on the Day of Recompense.”

Quran, 26:69-82

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