Toronto Raptors Forward Hedo Turkoglu's MDG Moment, Nothing to Hide in 2009-10

Stephen Brotherston@@ProBballNBAAnalyst IApril 19, 2010

Just like the popular MDG commercial where MDG comes in a clear bottle and has nothing to hide, Hedo Turkoglu arrived in Toronto to start the 2009-10 season and stepped into the role of “Gary” who calls in to work tired.

Just in case you missed the infamous MDG commercial.  MDG announces their beer comes in a clear bottle and has nothing to hide, how about Gary?  Then Gary proceeds to call into work tired.  He’d met up with his college roommate (girlfriend) the night before and things got a little crazy.

So Gary tells his boss that they both know he’d be useless today, and he’s taking the day off. But he’ll come in full-bore tomorrow and rock the proposal on Friday.

His exasperated Boss says, “but its Wednesday, Gary”.  Frustrated, the boss gives in with a see you tomorrow and hangs up.

Hedo Turkuglo pulled a “Gary” this season.

Hedo Turkoglu’s girlfriend is the Turkish National team.  The team Turkoglu decided was more important than his new employer, who had just signed him to a $10 million per season contract.

So when Turkoglu arrived for the Raptors training camp this past fall, the word from Turkoglu to his new bosses was, “I’m tired.”

He’d met his old National team buddies, gone to two-a day-practices for a month, and participated in an international tournament.  After the tough previous NBA season, Turkoglu was worn down.

But the word was, don’t worry.  Turkolgu will show up when it matters and he’ll rock the place in the playoffs.

Neither happened.

Hedo Turkoglu managed a regular season stat line of 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.  A huge decline from his 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists that he has put up the season before in Orlando.

And Turkoglu’s performance actually declined as the season progressed.

In November and December, Hedo Turkoglu was averaging around 13.5 points per game. But when it really mattered in March and April, his numbers had plummeted to about 8 points a game.

Maybe he really was worn down by playing ball all summer?

Some of Hedo Turkoglu’s problems were not his fault.  The broken orbital bone, a broken nose, and the health concerns with his parents back in Turkey, all had an adverse effect on Turkoglu’s performance this past season.

But by pulling an MDG “Gary” at the start of the season, Hedo Turkoglu created the lack of chemistry with his teammates that was evident all season.  Anyone who has attended a training camp would sympathize with Turkoglu’s teammates on this one.

Hedo Turkoglu skipped out on one of the most unpleasant parts of any teams schedule, and in doing so skipped out on the team bonding that comes from going through adversity together.  Worse, by setting himself up as someone special, he had to have created some hard feelings with the guys sweating their butts off in that University gym as he watched.

That’s a mistake the Raptors management and coaches have said will not happen again.

Later, the “Gary” Hedo pulled was only re-inforced by the Pizza Pizza commercial with Turkoglu saying repeatedly “Yes Boss” to Jay Triano, asking him if he was preparing for the next game.

A nice reward for the guy who skipped training camp, and was under-performing on the season.  Don’t think for a moment that Hedo’s commercial didn’t adversely effect the team.

Thanks a lot Turk, we hope it was worth it!

In the closing interviews, a somewhat remorseful Turkoglu told the assembled media that he accepted (some of the) blame for the Raptors season.  That he understood that, as the big free agent signed at the start of the season, a lot was expected of him.

But Hedo Turkoglu also said that this would be a big summer for him with his National team.

One has to wonder if Turkoglu has learned anything from this past season.  Or perhaps his loyalties just lie beyond the guys signing his paychecks!

When Andrea Bargnani gave his end-of-season interview, he announced his intention to play for his National team this summer.

But Andrea also said that his first priorities are to the Toronto Raptors.  Bargnani will only play for Italy if a deal can be worked out with regards to practice time and his role on the team.

As Andrea Bargnani noted, the players in Europe typically only play a 35 game schedule, and can handle a two-a-day training camp, but he has been through an 82 game schedule and needs consideration given to meet the Raptors off-season expectations of him.

If no deal can be worked out with his National team, Andrea Bargnani will not be joining them.

The Raptors cannot stop Hedo Turkoglu from participating with his National team.  The NBA has agreements in place that prevent this.

But Hedo Turkoglu should honor his paying employers wishes, and meet his obligations to his team.

One can (painfully) overlook last summer as a mistake from a player who had never experienced coming into training camp worn down before.  In reality, most professional sports figures are living the “Peter Pan” syndrome and have never grown up.  But Hedo Turkoglu has no such excuse this time.

Hedo Turkoglu has an obligation to the Raptors organization, his teammates, and the fans to show up this fall in shape and ready to participate from day one.


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