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The Hedo Situation February 7, 2010

Posted by dczarum in Uncategorized.
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His nickname is the “Turkish Jordan”. It’s a moniker that suggests that he’s, like Michael to the Americans, exponentially better than any of his fellow countrymen. And while Hedo Turkoglu is very likely the best basketball player in all of Turkey, amongst NBA players he is frustratingly average.

Like a kid who’s natural ability allows them to bullshit their way through guitar lessons or algebra class, Turkoglu, to this point, has seemingly floated his way through 10 seasons that saw both individual (Most Improved Player, 2008) and team success (playoff appearances in seven seasons). Through it all, though, his work ethic has repeatedly come into question.  Oddly, when someone exercises such seemingly little effort, as Turkoglu does, while still yielding results, there’s a tendency to just assume they possess some sort of supreme natural talent. The potential to harness this provides an especially attractive “what if” for GM’s league-wide, which made Hedo a valuable commodity during the 2009 free-agent market.

Still, Turkoglu’s carefree demeanour left a lot to be desired and served as a major red flag to any potential suitor, to say nothing of his pregame pizza intake. Unsurprisingly, since signing with the Raptors, a popular pizza chain has immortalized his pizza habit in a memorable advertising campaign. It has proved to be Hedo Turkoglu’s most significant contribution in a Raptors uniform.

Though the team has been winning of late, Hedo’s averages of 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4 assists remain uninspiring. Beyond a perceived lack of effort and undefined role within the team, Turks’ greatest obstacle to success is his ego, fuelled by the $53 million owed to him over the next five years. Hedo Turkoglu’s inflated self-perception is, dare I say, Situation-esque. Armed with a contract usually bestowed upon borderline franchise players, Turk honestly believes that he deserves to be the offensive focal point of his team. Don’t take my word for it: when asked in a post game interview to what he would attribute his strong play (26 points, 11 boards, 50% shooting) in a recent win over the Knicks, Turkoglu responded with one word, “Ball”. I may not speak Turkish Neanderthal, but I think the message was clear.

In the last few days, the Hedo situation appears to have worsened, thanks to a recent injury to his right orbital bone. Despite his employers (read: Bryan Colangelo) and doctor’s insistence, Hedo is refusing to wear a standard protective mask, stating bluntly “I appreciate all the concern, but I’m a grown man… and I decide not to wear. Just try to focus on my game, not on my face.” Fair enough.

While normally I would applaud any scenario that combines the comedy of arrogant pro basketball ethics with broken English, the Raptors have too much invested in Hedo for me to just laugh it off. Hedo Turkoglu can be a coveted piece in the Raptors puzzle, barring he accepts his place on the totem pole under players like Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, and maybe even Jarrett Jack. Ulimately, the immediate future of Canada’s lone NBA team lies in the hands of the “Turkish Jordan”, and I couldn’t be more terrified.