In a recent interview on Turkish television, Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu explained that he is actively seeking a release from the Toronto organization.
Take a wild guess why.
On March 28, 2010, Turkoglu was a healthy scratch for the Raptors, his first benching in over four years. The shocking decision came in the wake of reports that “The 53 Million Dollar Man” was spotted out at a Toronto nightclub, immediately after missing a game due to a stomach virus. He was fined by the team.
Naturally, Raptor fans and the media were furious. And, well, if you believe Turkoglu’s words in this interview, those last three weeks of the regular season have driven him to extreme measures.
Check out the translated NTVMSNBC transcript below:
Kaan Kural (chubby host): We’ve been wondering a lot about the crisis at the end of the season. Some rumors have been spread about you partying after the Denver game?
Hedo Turkoglu: Yes.
KK: The team’s management didn’t deny it and charged you instead. That’s what got the whole criticism from your own fan base going. [...] To face the fans is a hard thing to do for a professional.
Murat Kosova (other host): Also a dangerous one.
Hedo: Yeah. I’ve been playing in the USA for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve been booed by my own team’s fans. It’s a shocking situation and it made me feel extremely bad after. That was the most embarrassing moment in my life. God bless everyone, no exceptions!
KK: As far as we know, it’s not so common in American sports culture except in a few cities.
Hedo: I never experienced it before, maybe some little grumbles but…
MK: But we can treat Canada as an exception, Kaan.
KK: Yeah, it’s a much different fan base.
MK: Remember the protests against Vince Carter.
KK: Philadelphia and Toronto have bad reputations.
Hedo: Anyway, that’s why I said I have some issues with the organization. I felt sore at the Jazz game and didn’t play against Mehmet [Okur] in the second half. I’ve never come out and said, “I won’t play tonight” during my career. And it was not the case in Toronto either. I played through a hip injury, some ankle pain and, as you all know, cheekbone damage all year. I don’t even remember the shape of my nose anymore. Despite all of these challenges, I always intended to play and try my best.
After a sleepless Thursday night and not having eaten much, they asked me how I felt. I explained the situation and said, “I didn’t sleep. I’m not feeling good.” Their answer was, ‘We shouldn’t put you on the court without practicing.”
Hedo: Our Italian physiologists said, “You are not starting today. After training on Sunday you’ll give it a go against Miami and Charlotte.” I nodded and did some weight work on game day.
Although they allowed me to go home, I wanted to watch the game with my teammates. After the game, I went back home. Some European teammates called me and said, “Hedo, are you sleeping?” Then they told me where they were hanging out, which is actually 100 meters away from my home. I said, “OK” and when I arrived, all the guys were here. And if you check the camera records, you will see that I left there in 15-20 minutes with Andrea Bargnani. I guarantee it. And if they prove me wrong, I will give back my contract!
The day after, the whole controversy erupted. They claimed that I intentionally skipped the game. And the worst thing is that the people making the claims were from Raptors’ management and they wanted to suspend me for two games. My attorney settled the dispute and Mr. [Bryan] Colangelo promised me that things would stay between us.
The following day, I was fined and did not play against Miami. After the statements of the front office, everybody in Toronto heard the news. Think about the situation I am in …
As I told you before, I have played for four different teams in 10 years in the NBA and I have never experienced anything like this. I bet nobody can prove these “party machine” rumors.
(TBJ note: Woops!)
Hedo (continued): In fact, these events put me off both basketball and the Raptors organization. Needless to say, the fans started to lose my love. On the other hand, I have always had a good relationship with the fans. Before this incident they were incredibly happy when they saw me around town … They thanked me a million times for choosing Toronto over other options.
KK: Your relationship with fans in Sacramento, San Antonio and Orlando is well documented. There has never been an issue with you. You have always been a fan favorite.
Hedo: When the circumstances turned against me, I lost my enthusiasm for this city. My lawyers have talked to the front office recently. Honestly, I do not want to go back to Toronto. My lawyers talked to Mr. Colangelo and I hope that they will come up with a solution soon.
During this process I talked to [Raptors head coach] Jay Triano several times. I promised him that whether he starts me or not, I will do my best on the court. However, if I had a more temperamental personality, I would have left the team. Yet, I did exactly the opposite. I did my best. I told him that I have no problems with him. I am not a young player, so it’s not a big deal for me to come off the bench.
KK: The next game against Chicago, you grabbed 19 boards which was a career high.
Hedo: Yes, I tried hard.
MK: Apparently, problems are much bigger than we thought.
Hedo: I feel relieved now. I spent four weeks with my wife and daughter in Orlando. We had great time. This helped a lot.
MK: Hopefully, you will have a great summer here …
Thanks to TBJ friends Kubilay Kahveci, Cem Pekdogru and Arda Ocal for help with the translation.