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For Mirza Teletovic, a career forged in the horror of war

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USA TODAY Sports

Fred Kerber profiles Mirza Teletovic Sunday, a lengthy look at how Teletovic, having survived war, promises he will solve the game.

Kerber writes of both parts of Teletovic's life: the Bosnian War where he lost friends and family members in the daily horrors of life under attack, and the adjustments of his rookie season in the NBA ... and how the two intersected on opening night at Barclays Center. As part of the pre-game ritual, a shrieking, siren-like whistling splits the Brooklyn night. Teletovic, Kerber writes, froze. The sound was identical to an air raid siren he'd heard hundreds of times in Jablanica where he spent his childhood.

"I heard it in games here, a screeching whistle. It reminds you of the war," said Teletovic, who spoke of his experience earlier this year as part of "The Association."

Kerber also spoke with Dr. David Phillips of Columbia University who spent time in Bosnia during the war. Phillips describes both the daily shellings and bombings but also the role of basketball in giving people, particularly young people, some sense of normalcy.

So, Teletovic can remain patient and at the same time defiant. He will not let his travails as a rookie thwart his confidence and he feels he has not gotten the time he needs to succeed.

"People talk, ‘Oh you got a chance…’ " Teletovic said. "I don’t feel that. I feel like I never got a real chance to play a [whole] game. I’m not just a shooter, I’m a scorer. That’s a big, big difference. There has to be a rethinking of that description, ‘3-point shooter.’ Delete it. That’s not me. And I’m not a ‘small forward.’ All my life I’ve played power forward."

As Kerber writes, "All stuff for next season." And now, the next life after one spent simply surviving.