Jones: Hedo doesn’t want to be a masked man

February 6, 2010, 5:25 PM

It was interesting to watch Hedo Turkoglu speaking with reporters at practice and just exactly how many questions there were for Turkoglu about the mask. While some reporters seemed to be surprised to hear Turkoglu’s insistence that he would not be wearing the protective gear, it was no surprise in this corner.

He had already conveyed those thoughts last Tuesday in Indiana in the locker room as the team was heading out to the practice floor. Shaking his head and doing his impression of a school kid being sent to a recess detention while his buddies were going out to play, Turkoglu was not happy. Why? His insistence that it hurt, it was hard to get accustomed to and in general an attitude where he would rather take the risk of further injury than play in an uncomfortable state were obvious.

“They want me to play with the mask but I told them I can’t, it’s uncomfortable,” Turkoglu remarked yesterday after practice.

“I didn’t wear it today and I’m not going to wear it at all. I’m a grown man and I’ll make my own decisions and try to focus on my game and not on my face.”

Turkoglu knows he could put himself in jeopardy by not wearing the mask but that did not seem to phase the Raptors forward.

“Listen, you take risks in your life,” Turkoglu said. “Even with the mask, I could still get hit. It depends who hits you. The other day (when he was hit by the slender Mike Dunleavy) I wasn’t expecting that kind of hit either.”

True, the play involving the collision with Dunleavy seemed innocuous but yet, it resulted in a small fracture of the right orbital bone. Perhaps that fact will change Turkoglu’s stance and point out that the added protection may indeed be beneficial

Wearing it for six weeks as the doctors would like him to do sounds like it is out of the question as Turkoglu refuses to wear it for six minutes. But in the end, it may not matter what Turkoglu decides since the ultimate decision may just come down from up above. President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo has said that if Turkoglu is planning on playing, he’ll have to wear the mask.

The impending “doom and gloom” surrounding collective bargaining agreement negotiations started to crystallize yesterday as the owners made their first proposal to the players union.

So how did it go? Not so well, kind of like a setting up 10 blind dates with the same person in one shot and the first one being a flop. Translation, unless something changes there is more of the same “bad stuff” to come.

You know the owners are out to wrestle some of the revenue back as currently the players have a bigger share of the basketball-related income (BRI). Some owners felt that NBA commissioner David Stern was too nice to the players in the last CBA and they are trying to make sure that it’s not the same this time around. Will the owners win this round and crack the players this time? Not sure, but it sure seems like that’s what they are looking to do according to reports of the first proposal. As well-respected writer Adrian Wojarnowski said via his twitter account when he asked a high-ranking team executive about the actual document given to the players, “It’s just a photocopy of Stern’s middle finger.”

To be truthful, it was a clandestine meeting that provided the impetus for the agreement the last time the players were locked out. It saved what was left of the season leading to a compacted schedule. But there is one main thing working against the players this time and that is the economy. It is not nearly in as good a shape as it was back then, and there are whispers that a number of teams are available for the right price. Stern said in an interview with >Business Week magazine that close to half the teams in the league do not make money.

It may be tantamount to capitulation but perhaps the players should make some sort of preemptive proposal and try to negotiate with the owners in the true sense of a partnership. Look at the economy and split the BRI down the middle and look at some sort of negotiations that focus on some of the ‘hot-button issues’ like length of contracts and maximum amounts of money. Yes, Stern may be out to do what all commissioners are bound to do at times and that is save the owners from themselves.

It has been said the owners probably underpay some of the stars for what they bring to the league. Bu the real problem is the players who do not bring in proportionate revenues are vastly overpaid.

The deadline is for a new agreement is still somewhere down the road at the end of the 2010-11 season and remember, this is only the first round of discussions. But, unless there are concessions made, all the talk about a lock-out is going to come to fruition.


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