From hello to goodbye for Hedo

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 PM ET

The night when Hedo met Hello pretty much summed up one of the most unique times in Raptors history, a history that has featured more than its share of uniqueness.

Following a 106-104 win at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, Hedo Turkoglu was asked to provide a post-game TV interview with Jack Armstrong.

One night, one flash point of what Turkoglu’s year-long legacy in Toronto would ultimately come to represent.

One night best remembered and forgotten.

The interview took an odd turn when Armstrong posed an innocuous question concerning the difference in Turkoglu’s game.

Replied Turkoglu: “Ball.’’

Nearly four seconds of awkward silence ensued before Armstrong had the, well, balls, to summon a follow up.

“The ball in your hands, and you did a lot with it,” Armstrong added.

Responded Turkoglu: “I’ve got nothing else to say.”

And there you have it, the defining moment in Turkoglu’s ill-fated time in Toronto.

An odd ball who never lived up to the billing, a good guy to deal with, but one who took too many liberties in an organization that was simply too soft.

On that night against the Knicks, Turkoglu scored 26 points, the most he ever posted as a Raptor, hauled down 11 rebounds and had three dunks in leading the Raptors to a

106-104 win.

There weren’t many hightlights, but here are a few.

Dec. 13 vs. Houston

Turkoglu comes up big in a 101-88 win; his entire floor game was on display, making 9 of 18 shots, scoring 23 points, recording six rebounds and five assists.

Jan. 24 vs. L.A. Lakers

With the ball in his hands with the clock about to expire, Turkoglu drives the lane, initiates contact and forces a foul on Pau Gasol; with 1.2 ticks left in a one-point game, Turkoglu calmly drains both free throws; when Kobe Bryant’s buzzer beater doesn’t fall, Raptors win 106-105.

March 28 at Charlotte

A night after being a healthy scratch, Turkoglu emerges as the sixth man and provides a spark; plays 25 minutes, has two steals, scores 11 points and records three assists in a 103-101 win.

The lowlights appear too many to properly document, and we’re not even talking about his gutless off-season move when he told a Turkish TV network in his native land that he wanted out of Toronto, only to somehow take back his biting comments weeks later after the Raptors dispatched newly named assistant P.J. Carlesimo to meet face to face with Turkoglu.

Training camp 2009

Turkoglu shows up out of shape and completely disinterested; says he’s too tired from a long summer that included an appearance in the NBA final and commitments to his national team; Raptors don’t seem any bit concerned, allowing Turkoglu to basically take the entire camp off; special treatment upsets teammates and Raptors begin season with a 7-13 record.

Nov. 15 at Phoenix

Ball in his hands, Turkoglu asked to win the game; he momentarily loses balance, regains himself but his shot at the buzzer was about to expire doesn’t fall; Raptors lose 101-100.

March 24 vs. Utah

Plays first half, but is nowhere to be seen when second half begins; it’s later revealed Turkoglu had a stomach flu.

March 28 at Miami

Returns after one-game absence, dresses but gets nailed to the bench. In the days after Utah trip, it’s revealed Turkoglu was spotted at a downtown watering hole with his teammates; the benching in Miami was viewed as punishment for his bad judgment; later it’s revealed that Turkoglu was fined; clearly, this moment was the beginning of the end of the Hedo era.

End of season exit interview

When he cleared his locker and addressed the media, Turkoglu uttered the following:

“I know I disappointed a lot of people, especially the fans after they watched me many years ... and they expect a lot of things from me and I couldn’t do that. I know I upset a lot of people but it wasn’t really on purpose.”


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