Hedo Turkoglu made a lasting impression with the Toronto Raptors, but for all the wrong reasons.
The veteran forward, who announced his retirement from the NBA on Friday after 15 seasons, was one of the least popular players in Raptors’ history. He had a forgettable one-year stint with the franchise during an underwhelming 2009-10 season.
Now that Turkoglu is hanging up the sneakers, here’s what Raptors fans will never forget about his tenure with the club:
1) The terrible contract: The signing of Turkoglu turned out to be one of the worst decisions of Bryan Colangelo’s time running the Raptors as team president and general manager. And there were a lot of them (remember Jermaine O’Neal?).
Prior to the DeMarre Carroll signing this past summer, the Raptors handed Turkoglu the largest free-agent deal in franchise history – a five-year contract worth $53 million.
They intended for him to be a perimeter creator for a team that lacked a consistent scoring option behind Chris Bosh but Turkoglu turned out to be a colossal bust. He not only did nothing to improve a sub-.500 team but hurt the Raptors’ cap space for the next several years, even though he was traded to the Phoenix Suns after his only season in Toronto.
Turkoglu scored 11.3 points per game on 40.9 per cent shooting in 74 games.
His poor performance wasted Bosh’s final season with the Raptors and it took several seasons for the franchise to recover.
2) “Ball:” Who could forget this? After one of Turkoglu’s few respectable outings with the Raptors, he gave one of the stranger answers in a post-game interview (and there’s been a lot of those) that any one has ever seen.
Even Jack Armstrong still shakes his head when this Hedo interview gets brought up. When asked what was key to his performance, Turkoglu had just one word to describe it.
3) Pizza Pizza commercial: This ad oddly enough was a perfect summation of Turkoglu’s season with the Raptors. In a commercial for Pizza Pizza, Turkoglu was lying on the couch eating cheese pizza and giving half-assed answers to his coach, Jay Triano, about watching film of his next opponent. Who knew they could be so prophetic?
4) Turkoglu gets benched..for non-basketball reasons: This was a strange one. Turkoglu was “supposedly” too sick to practice or play but that didn’t stop him from being seen by fans, who informed the Raptors organization, having fun on a Friday night in the Yorkville district just after hours after he sat out a Friday night game with a “stomach virus.”
Turkoglu was dressed to play the following game in Miami, but the Raptors decided to sit him out as a punishment instead.
It was a low point in an already-troubling season.
“It’s all good, man,” Turkoglu told reporters after the game. “I’ve been dealing with this [stuff] the whole year. They’ve been on me on this [going out] the whole year long. If I wasn’t out, sick or healthy, they [the fans] would still say something. I don’t say anything.”
5) Turkoglu slams Raptors on his way out: It’s hard to imagine that Turkoglu enjoyed his experience with the Raptors. He was disliked by the fans and must not have thought much of the organization or Colangelo, who he trashed during a television interview in Turkey following the end of the 2009-10 season.
“People have to realize something is wrong with that organization and nobody wants to go there anymore,” he said. “It’s not just the players who see this.”
Turkoglu didn’t like that Colangelo accused Bosh of “checking out” late in his last season before signing with the Miami Heat.
“It’s funny that people will talk behind your back,” Turkoglu said of Colangelo. “If he was feeling this way, why not have the guts to say it during the season? Why not say it to Chris? Now that Chris has left, it’s not nice to say those things.
“Chris has been a franchise player and he did a lot of good things for the Raptors. I don’t think Chris is the type of player to quit on his teammates.
“I just don’t understand why you would say these things,” he added. “Like I said, that organization has problems.”