PHOENIX – Six thousand miles felt like next door to Nikola Jokic this week when tragedy hit his home country of Serbia.
A 13-year-old boy on Wednesday morning used his father’s guns to kill eight school children and a school guard in the country’s capital, Belgrade, less than 200 kilometers from Jokic’s hometown of Sombor.
“It’s something that I don’t remember it happening in Serbia and I’m really sorry about everything that the families are going through,” Jokic told reporters here as the Nuggets prepared for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Suns on Friday night. “It’s something that you don’t want to hear about and probably when it hits something that’s around you, a little bit closer to you — if that makes sense — in Serbia and it’s never happened before, it’s tough.”
According to The Associated Press, the shooting is the first at a school in Serbia’s modern history.
“To be honest, I was so surprised,” Jokic said. “I thought we, I’m not saying we don’t have that, but maybe that’s the mindset. But that’s not true.”
Fellow NBA star Luka Doncic on Thursday agreed to pay for funeral arrangements and grief counseling for classmates at the school, his foundation told ESPN.
Jokic said it’s important to check in on people who may be struggling in the wake of the attack and to listen carefully about what those impacted may need.
“We need to take care of everybody,” he said.