May 31, 2010 3 Comments
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 firstname.lastname@example.org