Earlier this week, Evan Turner caused a stir by suggesting that the 76ers would rather play the Bulls than the Heat in the first round of the playoffs because the Heat were “the tougher team.” People were shocked, partly because they didn’t know Evan Turner had opinions about things and partly because it’s not common for an NBA player to admit they’re scared of a certain team while simultaneously giving the team they are facing some bulletin board material. All in all, just a surprising situation.
However, as the Chicago Sun-Times mentions, this shouldn’t be that surprising since there’s been a beef between Turner and fellow Chicago high school superstar Derrick Rose since they faced each other during their senior year. From the Sun-Times:
It started, at least publicly, in March of 2007. It was of one of the biggest games of the year, a showdown between Simeon and St. Joseph at Northwestern.
Rose was regarded as the top player in the state. Turner was challenging Rose for player of the year honors.
At halftime, standing near center court, Turner said “Derrick Rose ain’t [crap].”
Not everyone heard it, and it didn’t seem to be directed at anyone in particular, but it was unmistakable.
In the second half, Rose and Turner really went at it, jawing back-and-forth the entire time. Late in the game, Turner scored on a layup and was fouled. Before shooting the free throw, Turner turned around and said something to Rose. An official approached Turner at the line and defused the incident.
Turner scored 29 points, including 20 straight during one stretch, doing his best to back up his bold words. Rose scored 29 as well, and Simeon won 74-66.
After the game, Turner’s quotes raised plenty of eyebrows.
“I was better than Rose,” Turner said. “With me guarding him he didn’t do much. He knows that, and I know that.” [...]
“Read him the quote,” [Simeon coach Robert] Smith said to me.
I did, and Rose’s response was one of the few times in his high school career where he showed some bravado.
“We both know who is better,” Rose said. “He’s just doing this to get a little bit of publicity. We’ll see who does more on the next level. They called a lot of soft fouls on us when he had the ball. It wasn’t like he did anything that impressive.”
Just a few weeks later, Rose and Simeon beat St. Joseph in the state playoffs, ending Turner’s prep career. It’s a safe bet Turner wouldn’t mind returning the favor in the NBA playoffs.
Watch that clip up top (Turner is No. 35 in white, Rose is No. 25 in black) and you can see that these two guys were super talented, even back then. Then when you watch these clips of them getting in each other’s faces, you can tell they didn’t like each other very much.
No one’s expecting a very competitive first round matchup between these two teams. The Bulls finished with the top seed in the NBA while the 76ers finished the season by losing 15 of their last 32 after the All-Star break. However, if there are even two guys who don’t like each other, that could lead to some fun times, even if the series is short.
Who knows if they still hate each other as much as they did when they were 18, but if Turner’s comments are any indication, there’s still a little bit of animosity. Here’s hoping they still remember how to push each other’s buttons.
(via Dan Levy)