Hedo Turkoglu wants out of Toronto

After a number of successful seasons with the Toronto Raptors, Hedo Turkoglu recently expressed his desire to leave Toronto on Turkish television. Oh wait, let me rephrase that. Following one lackluster season into his 5 year $53 million dollar contract, Hedo Turkoglu stated on Turkish television that he is actively seeking his release from the Toronto Raptors. Turkoglu follows the long line of former Raptors who also wanted out of Toronto including Vince Carter and Tracy Mcgrady.  Apparently these feelings all stemmed from the incident on March 28, 2010 when Turkoglu was benched for the first time in four years. He was apparently spotted at a Toronto nightclub immediately after missing a game due to a stomach virus. Hedo claims that he was only out for 15 minutes and went out only  when some teammates called and asked if he was sleeping. Hedo says that “these events put me off both basketball and the Raptors organization. Needless to say, the fans started to lose my love.”

Turkoglu came to Toronto with high expectations after leading his Orlando Magic on a fairytale run to the NBA finals. Turkoglu was even dubbed “Mr. Fourth Quarter”. None of these expectations came to fruition as Hedo ended his first season as a Raptor averaging 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.

I don’t think that anyone who followed the Raptors season can seriously consider the garbage that is coming out of Hedo Turkoglu’s mouth. His season did not get off to a good start last year as he came to training camp fat and out of shape. However, most Raptor fans gave him a pass in this regards because he had finished a grueling season that included a trip to the NBA finals as well as playing internationally for Turkey. Little did we know that this was a tell tale sign for the season to come. Throughout the season Turkoglu barely brought any intensity to the table, and showed at most, brief flashes of the magic that he seemed to have left in Orlando. Raptor fans kept waiting for the man that had been nicknamed “Mr. Fourth Quarter”, but time after time Hedo came up short in clutch situations. There were murmurs from Turkoglu during the season that he didn’t have the ball in his hands enough to do the same things that he did while he was with Orlando. In an interview with Raptors colour commentator Jack Armstrong after a game against the New York Knicks where he posted season highs of 26 points and 11 rebounds, Turkoglu responded to a question with one word….”Ball.”

The problem with this demand from Turk was that whenever the ball was put into his hands he rarely did anything with it. There was no explosion in his first step, his mid-range jumper wasn’t falling, and often he would just give it off to someone else. It was evident that he flat out did not care about the game or his performance. Turkoglu was always smiling, and that’s great when you’re performing at a high level. But when your team is going through tough times as the Raptors did near the end of the season, and your play is sub-par there shouldn’t be any reason to be happy. Well I guess for Turkoglu there was and always will be 53 million reasons to be happy.

Things got so bad in Raptor land that fans started booing the prized free agent. Turkoglu said in his interview that it was the first time in 10 years that he had been booed by his home town fans, and that it made him feel “extremely bad after.” In general, I am a person that thinks that booing your own team is a stupid thing to do.  If your players are trying their best there is no reason to boo them for their bad play. How is that going to help them? However, if players aren’t trying that is a totally different story. Turkoglu is adamant in saying that he always tried his best no matter what. Yeah right. Despite the fact he played 6 less minutes than the year before even his stats can show that he didn’t bring the same type of aggressiveness that he had in Orlando. He averaged only 9 shot attempts a game compared to 13 the previous year, and only 3 free throw attempts a game compared to 5 the year before. The only thing that didn’t deteriorate was his three points shooting as he shot around his career average at 37%, but again very few of these were in clutch situations. Also, on multiple occasions with time on the clock, Raptor fans watched as Turkoglu decided to sit back, run down the clock and take a contested three with the game on the line instead of driving hard to the basket like we’ve seen in the past.

I feel that it would be best for the Raptors and Turkoglu if they could part ways. The question then is, who takes on Turkoglu’s large contract? At this point, if I’m a general manager, I sure don’t want to be taking on a guy who seems to have lost the fire in his belly. Moreover, that same guy is 31 years old. On the other hand, Turkoglu is a proven winner that has come up clutch in the past.   The Raptors have not had a upper echelon wing player ever since Vince Carter gave up on Toronto. It is obvious that Turkoglu is not going to be the answer to those problems over the next few years. If the Raptors could deal Turkoglu, maybe they will find a player that could fill that position for years to come.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Brett Favre return

Oh no, not another Brett Favre story right? I realize that most people are tired of hearing about whether or not Brett Favre is going to come back for another season. Well, I’m not.

It looks as though Favre is going to decide to play one more season. Over the last few years Favre has gotten a lot of grief over his inability to make a decision on his decision to return to football. The reason I want to write about this today is that I was listening to Steven A. Smith on the radio talk about how disgusting he thinks Brett Favre is. He thinks it’s disgusting that Favre leaves his team hanging, that he decides to have ankle surgery in May rather than in January, and that this allows him not to report to training camp. He also referred to Favre as a “media whore”, and many other people believe this to be true as well. I, on the other hand, am not one of those people. Over the past number of years I have been a huge Favre fan. I feel that Favre’s constant indecision throughout the last portion of his career as well as many other of his questionable decisions are justified.

Here’s why.

First off, give me a good reason to tell me why Brett Favre should have to go to training camp. The media is constantly on Favre about avoiding training camp and why this is not good for his team. This was especially apparent last year when I kept hearing that him not going to training camp would not allow Farve to develop a good relationship and chemistry with his future teammates in Minnesota. Yeah good call guys. If everyone hasn’t noticed Favre is getting a little old.  The fact that Favre avoids training camp most likely allows him to be fresher for the season ahead. This may have some small implications at the start of the season, such as Favre not having his timing down, but as the season goes on it is crucial that Favre’s body does not wear down and not going to training camp gives him a bit of an edge in this regard. Also, no one likes training camp, and if teams are willing to let Brett Favre avoid training camp then why shouldn’t he. Are teams telling Brett Favre that he has to go to training camp in order to play for their team? No they aren’t. They are accommodating him as best they can because he still is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. If teams are going to allow him to avoid training camp, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Media whore? Steven A. Smith called Brett Favre a media whore multiple times during a span of 7 or 8 minutes today and I’m sure it isn’t the first time he has called him that. Sorry members of the media, but Brett Favre is not a media whore. Brett Favre’s inability to make a decision stems from one thing, and one thing only. That is Brett Favre’s inability to make a decision. Favre is not out for publicity nor is he calling for the public to remind him of how much they want him back for another season. He is just unable to come to a conclusion about his playing future. I think this happens for a couple of reasons. First, after another grueling NFL season, Favre is bruised, battered, and exhausted. As the season draws to a close Favre has the idea in his head that he can’t take another year of the pain and tiredness of the NFL. However, as the off-season moves along he starts to feel healthier and eventually feeling pretty much 100% healthy. He starts to think to himself…hey, maybe I can play another season. Then the true indecision begins. Going back to the media whore referral. Favre is only a media whore because the media covers him so much. If the media didn’t give so much attention to the Favre controversy then there would barely be any controversy. I am almost certain that even if the media didn’t give this attention to Favre he would still have the same difficulties with regards to his decision, but the decision would just be much more private. One thing I wanna throw out there is that I also think that the much of the media is jealous of all the publicity Favre gets, and this skews their perception of him.

Brett Favre has had one of the most storied and successful careers in NFL history. He holds many NFL records including: most career touchdown passes, most career passing yards, and most consecutive starts.  And as I said earlier he loves the game, maybe more than anyone that has ever played the game. Hasn’t Brett Favre earned the right to decide when and if he still wants to play, and make that decision the way he wants to make it. The Green Bay Packers sure didn’t think so, and with the exceptional play of Aaron Rodgers I sure don’t blame them. But the fact that they didn’t give Favre’s release when he asked for one was not a fair thing to do for someone who had given so much for the franchise. The same goes for everyone else. Brett Favre has given so  much to the NFL, I think it’s time that we recognize this and give him the credit that he deserves. 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Check out our videos as well at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAlphabetBoyz

Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play

The Phoenix Suns pulled off the improbable today, coming back from a 2-0 deficit in their series with the Lakers. After the first two games in LA it seemed that all the match-up problems that the Lakers posed to the Suns were for real and that the Suns were not going to be able to handle them. However, everything changed early in the 2nd quarter of game 3 when Alvin Gentry decided to go to a 2-3 zone defence that stymied the LA offence and eventually allow Phoenix to take the game 118-109. In game 4 Alvin Gentry stuck to his guns and played most of the game with a zone defence. Added onto that, some timely 3 point shooting that the Suns had been lacking throughout the series, especially from Channing Frye, allowed them to pull off another big upset. The big story though wasn’t just the defence and the massive amount of zone played in the game.

The bench, led by second year point guard Goran Dragic, out played not just the Lakers bench, but their starters as well. Throughout the season coach Alvin Gentry has showed confidence in his bench and allowed them to play through their mistakes. In the 2010 playoffs it has definitely paid off. The Suns bench played so well during the 4th quarter in game 4 that Alvin Gentry didn’t take them off until just inside the 4 minute mark of the period. The bench came out in the 4th quarter and nailed 3 consecutive three’s to put the Suns up by 9 and the Lakers were unable to dig out of that hole. Despite the fact that Phil Jackson put out his starters, Alvin Gentry stuck with his bench and they rewarded his confidence. The highlight for the bench was by Goran Dragic who made a beautiful cross over then spin move in the lane and finished it with his off right hand.

Overall the bench shot 20-32 (62.5%) from the field, and 9-20 (45%) from beyond the arc. Channing Frye finally broke out of his slump hitting 4 three pointers after missing 17 field goals in a row. Goran Dragic contributed 8 assists in almost 18 minutes, and Jared Dudley continued his hot shooting making 3 of 6 from downtown. All in all the Suns bench outscored the Lakers bench 54-20.

Having the series tied up 2-2 going back to LA is not the only effect that the impressive play that the bench has on this series. Their ability to play well also allows the starters, most notably Steve Nash to have more than adequate rest. Steve Nash and the rest of the Phoenix Suns starters will now be fresh going into game 5 and not nearly as worn down as the series goes on.

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Kobe Bryant is unstoppable. During the regular season I had finally thought that Lebron James had dethroned Kobe Bryant as the best player in the NBA. I’m sorry I ever doubted you Kobe. We all saw Lebron…well choke in the last two games of their series against the Boston Celtics. I don’t care that his teammates didn’t step up and that Antawn Jamison, the supposed side kick for Lebron, didn’t do his part. Lebron obviously doesn’t have the same mental make up of Kobe to be able to take his team on his back when it matters the most. At least not yet. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant has shown that he can still do it when it matters. In 8 of the last 9 playoff games Kobe has scored over 30 points, silencing his critics (including me) that the nagging injuries were finally getting to him and that all the extra playoff and international games had pushed him over the hill.

Kobe once again tried to put his team on his back tonight going 15-22 from the field, hitting 6 three’s for 38 points. Oh yeah, he also finished with 10 assists for his 3rd straight double-double. The rest of his teammates once again couldn’t crack the zone defence of the Suns. Besides Kobe’s 6-9 from beyond the arc, the rest of the Laker squad shot a dismal 3 for 19 (16%).

I thought Phil Jackson would have figured out a way to break the Sun’s zone, but it seems as though the Lakers are just going to have to shoot better from the outside. I still think Phil Jackson and the Lakers will figure it out for Game 5 but until then let the speculation begin. Hopefully we’re in store for another thrilling game!

Bring on Lord Stanley

Today the Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks with a come from behind 4-2 victory. Throughout the series the Sharks could not match the Hawks’ energy, speed, and talent. This series all but proves that the Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in the NHL. Is there any way that the Flyers or Canadians could give the Hawks a run for their money in the Stanley Cup Final?

To put it simply, no.

First of all, the Hawks knocked off a very good Sharks team that has consistently been at the top of the Western Conference for a while now. They also beat a Canucks team, with not too much difficulty, that was the arguably the best team in the second half of the season. Although, I guess it is a little odd that the team that the Blackhawks had the most trouble with was the Nashville Predators. But it seems their struggles in Round 1 were due to Nashville’s defensive style of play, as well as Chicago’s lack of intensity for much of that series. The only thing that’s going to stop Chicago is themselves.

I think that Chicago is the most talented team in the NHL, and with their talented group having some playoff experience under their belt the idea that this team is too young is a thing of the past. When you go through the Hawks lineup there are no glaring weaknesses. They are strong from the top down. The fact that the Toews, Byfuglien, and Kane line has been beast is not the only reason to fear these Hawks. They also have guys like Versteeg, Sharp, and Hossa (even though he hasn’t played all that well). Not to mention the one best checking lines in the league led by Dave Bolland, who has come up with some big goals throughout the playoffs. Furthermore, the much publicized top defensive pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith is also complemented by the smooth skating Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Brent Sopel. Add on some recent stellar goaltending from the inconsistent Antti Niemi and I don’t think describing this team as solid does it justice. This team is scary good.

On the other side of the table in the Eastern Conference, the potential matchup of the Habs or the Flyers does not provide the Hawks with any challenge whatsoever. First of all the Canadians have been outplayed throughout the playoffs and have squeaked through the #1 seed Capitals and Crosby led Penguins with some timely goals, luck, and superman goaltending from Jaroslav Halak. The Canadians lack of depth up front and on the back end especially with the injury to Andrei Markov appears to have finally caught up to them. If they do end up coming back once again the Canadians will be too tired to even have a shot at competing with the superior Blackhawks.

It’s not like the Flyers have had an easy road during these playoffs. They had to come back from an almost impossible 3-0 hole against the Bruins. However, if they can close out the Canadians in 5 they might be able to bring up enough energy to at least give the Hawks a series. The main problem that I see with the Flyers is that their back end can not match the speed and skill of Chicago’s forwards. Although Chris Pronger has had a sort of resurgence and is still playing major minutes (31:07 last night) he is not the same guy that he used to be and is not quick enough to keep up. With the return of Jeff Carter, the Flyers are fairly strong up front, but again the Blackhawks do have a great checking line and back end to match that. The only thing that the Blackhawks will have a problem with is the Flyers toughness. I felt that in the Vancouver-Chicago series, the choice of the Canucks not physically engaging the Blackhawks allowed them to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted knowing that there would be no consequences to doing things such as driving hard to the net. The Flyers could upset the mentality of the Hawks with their hard hitting and toughness. However, ultimately toughness isn’t going to win you hockey games and the Hawks will come out on top.

Blackhawk fans have waited a long time for their team to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals, and it looks as though nothing is going to stop them from hoisting Lord Stanley.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com.

Bosh to the Big Apple?

Chris Bosh has been a treat to watch throughout his time in Toronto and it very much looks as though he will be leaving sometime this summer. Yesterday, Chris Bosh gave the Raptors his list of 4…err 5 teams that he would like to play for next year, which includes Chicago, New York, Miami, LA Lakers and of course he has to say Toronto although we all know that this is not going to be the case. Sources have said the Raptors as well as Bosh prefer the sign and trade, and obviously the Raptors would want some sort of replacement for Chris Bosh but what is the best option for Bosh as well as the Raptors?

Chicago seems like the least viable option for Bosh as the fit just wouldn’t be right there. It would be ridiculous to give up Joakim Noah after his breakout season this year, and the rookie power forward Taj Gibson has also showed some nice promise. Moreover, a sign and trade involving Bosh with either of these two players is not probably not a good idea for Chicago if they want to get Lebron, and are either Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, or the veteran Brad Miller fair compensation for Chris Bosh. I would think not.

In terms of fit Miami looks as though it could be a very possible destination for Bosh. There has been much talk of Wade and Bosh teaming up, especially after they have become quite good friends from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Despite the fact that Miami has very few players under contract next year, a Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade tandem is scary to think about. Now the player under contract currently filling the 4 spot in Miami is the always consistently inconsistent former #2 pick Michael Beasley. The question is whether Miami is ready to give up on their former lottery pick for proven talent and whether Toronto believes Beasley is a viable replacement for their supposed franchise player. Personally I feel that Bosh would be a great fit with Wade as I don’t think he can ever do it on his own anywhere even with a great supporting cast. However, the Raptors need a strong inside presence and someone who is willing to commit themselves to the defensive cause and Michael Beasley does not fit either of those criteria. His scoring does not compensate enough to call him a solid starter.  All in all a Bosh, Wade team would be great for Miami but not for Toronto leaving this option, in my eyes, null and void.

That leaves two options: The Lakers and the Knicks. There were rumours during the season that a straight up trade of Bosh for Bynum was in the works. This just does not make any sense for the Lakers. The Lakers already have a Bosh essentially with Pau Gasol. Bosh does not provide the inside presence that Bynum gives, and although Bosh’s offence is very good you cannot have 3 guys who need the ball in their hands a lot. The Raptors could defenitely use Bynum, but at a young age Bynum has already had some injury issues which I think spells trouble for a big man making him not a very good option even for the Toronto “no defence” Raptors.

Now that just gives Bosh one spot to go and that’s the lowly New York Knicks. The sign and trade possibility of David Lee for Chris Bosh is not ideal for the Raptors but is not out of the question. Although David Lee is only 6″9 he would serve as a good replacement for Chris Bosh as he is a legit 20 and 10 guy despite what some people may lead you to believe. With Chris Bosh moving to New York he would finally get the national exposure that he never received playing in Canada. This possibility becomes even greater if Lebron James does indeed decide to sign with the Knicks, as they have spent the last 2 years basically tanking for a shot at Lebron James and another max contract (Wade or Bosh). I believe that they only have two players under contract right now with Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

If you go through the teams on Bosh’s list it is evident that New York is the only viable destination right now, as Bosh does not want to come back to Toronto to play on a perennially mediocre team. Chris Bosh has a tough decision to make but I think that he is going to the Big Apple.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

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