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For Mirza Teletovic, basketball is a game, not war ... and he knows the difference


In what was one of the most emotional segments in "The Association: Brooklyn Nets," Mirza Teletovic spoke for the first time about his life in Bosnia during the Balkans wars of the mid-90's. Teletovic grew up in the city of Mostar, the subject of an 18-month siege when he was a child, part of a war that lasted years and killed 250,000.

As Michael Kenneth Williams intoned in his narration, "For Teletovic, nothing he faces in the NBA can compare to what he's already seen." Or as Teletovic himself said, "Real pressure is to survive. That's the real pressure."

Here's the transcript of his comments, delivered with a minimum of emotion...

"I was seven years old when the war started. First you start seeing that there's no food, then grenades come down, the whole city is shaking, and you hear people screaming. Every day, your parents come in and say 'our neighbor died, our cousin died." Always somebody dying. One day, I asked my mother, 'Is anybody alive?' It was very, very rough for us. It left, I will say, a memory.

"I used to wake up at six o'clock in the morning and go to the basketball court. I wouldn't come home until 11 or 12 o'clock at night. when You don't know the situation at that time. you don't even have shoes. The basketball court is like 300 meters from my house. And all my friends and me are playing and then you hear the sirens like the grenades start falling down and just run to your house and hide. If I have to die, I die. For basketball, I will do anything.

"Real pressure is to survive. That's the real pressure. But you know how they say, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. so that makes me a lot stronger. You start thinking like if they didn't kill me during the war, they're ain't going to kill me today.

"When you come to the NBA, its the toughest basketball league in the world. And if you get an experience and a chance to play in it, after everything that you've been through, I mean for me, it can't be better."

The episode also includes P.J. Carlesimo talking about Teletovic's character.

"He was not in the rotation for a long time. That was a tough thing for him to swallow. but his attitude stayed good. When he's finally gotten a little bit of a chance, he's taken advantage of it."

The episode next airs on Tuesday at 6:30pm ET. It's worth setting the DVR. The NBA has released clips of the episode on, but surprisingly, not the Teletovic clip.