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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rebirth Of Turk

 Questions or comments? Wanna tell me how much I suck? Hire me to pen your memoirs? Hit me here or on Twitter @SnottieDrippen.

Wha..Do the Homie? Nah...
 Ah, 2009. Memory's are hazy, but those were good times. Jamie Foxxx was blaming it on the Goose, Soulja Boy was idiotically begging to be kissed via telephone, and the Orlando Magic looked primed to be NBA bullies for years to come. After toppling the LeBron-led Cavs powerhouse, they battled the powerful Lakers admirably well before falling in the Finals. In the future, who could deal with their Mad Scientist line-up??? Dang, interchangable 6'10" forwards who could beat you off the bounce or stroke it from 3? A 7' beast of a center who ran like a guard and pummeled rims and shots with equal ferocity? A Mighty Mite PG with ice in his veins? "Man, as long as they grow together and add a real 2, these guys are trouble". And Hedo Turkoglu was the straw that stirred it; post up buckets, dimes, long treys, easy oops to Dwight Howard, he was the Do-It-All MC for these upstarts. The bad thing? He knew it. Never mind that the Magic system and this system ONLY was the one place that he would max out his good-at-alot-excel-at-nothing skillset. Hell, if Jerome James could parlay 12.5 ppg and fake hustle during a playoff run  into a $30 million contract, Hedo's 16-5-5 line was about to get him PAID. The cliched "it's a business" was bandied around by both sides and the Hedo was packing his bags (to be fair, who would TURN DOWN 56 mil?). And BOY, would they all be sorry.

Toronto was supposed to be on the CUSP in '09-'10: a veritable United Nations of talent from around the world, a statistically dominant power forward in Chris Bosh,  Uber-Euro wunderkind Andrea Bargnani, a front office not afraid to spend the cheese. Turk & Co. killed all that optimism right off the bat, playing uninspired, disjointed, defenseless ball, with Big Money Turk being a main culprit. Out of shape? Check. Disinterested? Check. Sulky? Uh-huh. Silly stuff like his his "stomach bug" party night drew hate, both sports AND legitimate, from even the biggest Raps supporters (PLEASE, read that Eric Wright diatribe. My blood got angered just reading it. Fantastic stuff). Portland breathed a sigh of relief for missing on him. So he was done, right? Washed up? Doomed to attempt to rejuvenate his career in Phoenix with Nash, while the Magic kept trying to convince themselves that Vince "pinata" Carter was a championship difference maker? He spent the summer trading nasty barbs with Toronto management, and was embarrassingly pathetic this season in Phoenix. Nash was the ball handler supreme, Jason Richardson was the designated scorer, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye the 3 point aces, Hakim Warrick was the nonrebounding power forward; Turk was QUADRUPLY useless.  The "if he only had stayed with the Magic" tsk-tskers were out in full force.

"You never left my heart."
But the Basketball Gods smile on the game; against all odds,  Zombie Turk has been resurrected in Orlando.  We all know where the story is at now, but it's a very, very rare thing that we're seeing in Orlando: a professional athlete leaving a situation, flaming out elsewhere, then actually coming "home" to success. Have we EVER seen it before? Steve Francis tried going back to Houston after his humbling turn with the Knicks. Um, that didn't work too well.  And honestly, how refreshing is it for a front office bigwig like Magic GM Otis Smith to not only admit making a mistake, but actually move to RECTIFY it?? As absolutely pathetic as Turk looked  with the Suns (again, to be fair, it's nigh-impossible to replace the preposterous Amare' Stoudemire production, but 9 ppg and 4 rpg for 10 mil a season really sucks), he's looked equally as good with the Magic. The 12.5 ppg isn't eye popping, but his 6.5 apg  and 5.3 rpg are both career highs. More important than all the numbers though, is his energy, his confidence, and his playmaking. He was Pouty in Toronto, Lost in PHX, now he's Turk in Orlando. That's what makes basketball so confoundingly hard to project; raw numbers, even advanced stats, don't necessarily tell the story. Anyone can take an average player and find statistics somewhere that make him seem like garbage, or like the Second Coming in disguise. A good team isn't just the talents of the players, it's a synergistic thing, where 2+3 isn't always 5; it might equal 7 ('04 Pistons), or it might equal 3 ('04 Lakers, Vince Carter). Turk is what he is, a tall, unathletic dude with a good feel for the game, no fear of the clutch who's the perfect 2nd or 3rd banana. Yeah, he was a cry-baby in Toronto and looked like a bum in Phoenix, but now back in Orlando, he's once again Turk the Jerk, nailing step back Js and flipping 13 foot high passes for Dwight Howard to lunch on, smiling like a madman the whole time. For fans of good basketball, it was kinda sad playing "what-if" when he left, and it's just as exciting watching Turk and Dwight re-develop that chemistry they had in The Good Old Days. We don't know if we can call it redemption; let's see how the next few years go. Personally, I'm just glad to see Vince Carter let off the hook of being a key peice on a good team, now he can return to the random 38 point explosion and extra-lacksadaisical play in games that don't matter. The NBA- Where Prodigal sons happen.

Oh, and this is what's tough about blogging; I'm finishing this,doing a lil more research, and find  articles in the same vein by better, smarter writers. Dang. Great reads, shout out to Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie and  Rob Mahoney at NY Times Off The Dribble blog, you guys get outta my head.

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