The look on his face was equal parts bewilderment and shock as
Hedo Turkoglu was booed by a sellout crowd in Vancouver.
As he trotted out to the rude reception, it was as if the former
Raptor hadn’t expected any reaction
at all before the pre-season game, let alone the hostile welcome he
He ain’t seen nothing yet.
Turkoglu and the Phoenix Suns are in Toronto to play the Raptors again Sunday afternoon and
if there’s a sure thing in the world, it’s that the free-agent
washout will be treated with disdain bordering on outright hatred
the minute he walks on the court. It’s kind of a tradition.
Turkoglu is about to join a pantheon of former Toronto players
treated harshly when they come back. Surprised should have been the
last thing Turkoglu felt in Vancouver, having seen first-hand how
Toronto fans treat his one-time Orlando teammate, Vince Carter.
Nothing the 31-year-old Turkoglu has done since last season will do
anything to lessen the reaction he gets Sunday. He has refused to
take much responsibility for a disastrous one-year tenure in
Toronto after signing a five-year, $53 million U.S. deal. He was
highly critical in an off-season interview from his native Turkey,
suggesting there were deep-rooted issues that made the Raptors organization one players
If anything’s become evident over the years, it’s that Raptors fans detest departed
underachievers who take potshots on their way out of town.
Turkoglu’s time with the Suns – traded in July for Leandro
Barbosa – hasn’t been the greatest success story so far. While he
hasn’t gone as far as to suggest he isn’t being used correctly,
he’s very much finding his way at both ends of the floor. Of his
offence, he told the Arizona Republic:
“I’m so open. I think, ‘Damn, should I take this shot? It’s the
first pass. Or should I drive and kick?’ As time goes by, I will
learn that’s a good shot because Steve (Nash) drew my man and
Defensively? “I’m learning the defensive rules – showing,
getting back, switching, denying, getting in front. Those kind of
things, I never did before.”
Not in Toronto, at least, where fans are sure to remember his
passivity and lack of impact. Seeing how others before him have
been treated, there’s no way Turkoglu can be surprised by what
THE MOST HATED
How he left: In a trade for Eric Williams, Aaron Williams,
Alonzo Mourning and two first-round draft picks on Dec. 7,
Why he left: Dissatisfied with the direction of the franchise,
playing for his fourth coach in seven seasons, he had asked for a
trade in September before being moved.
How he returned: As the most vilified player in franchise
history. Booed every time he touches the ball no matter what he’s
doing or who he’s playing for, the former darling of the fans is
Public Enemy No. 1.
First game back: Feb. 25, 2005 as a member of the New Jersey
Nets, Carter scored 22 points on 8-for-25 shooting from the field
in 40 minutes as Toronto won 100-82.
His reaction: Bemusement at first, he now seems miffed at
incessant questions about his time in Toronto and the fallout from
NOT A MAN OF HIS WORD
How he left: In a sign-and-trade for a future first-round draft
pick on Aug. 3, 2000.
Why he left: After toying publicly with the idea of returning,
he bailed on the franchise to return to his Orlando hometown. Never
a fan of living in Toronto, he wanted a chance to escape the shadow
of his cousin, Carter.
How he returned: To raucous boos and open hatred. There was no
good-natured booing, just raw emotion as he came back on April 1,
2001 to score 24 points with seven rebounds as the Magic won
His reaction: He’s always used the fans’ anger as a source of
inspiration, professing to love playing the role of the villain.
He’s still booed vociferously whenever he’s in town and that isn’t
likely to change when he comes back with the Detroit Pistons this
MIGHTY MOUSE A RAT?
How he left: In a trade along with Walt Williams and Carlos
Rogers to Portland for Alvin Williams, Gary Trent, Kenny Anderson,
two first-round draft picks, a second-round draft pick and cash on
Feb. 13, 1998.
Why he left: He had been so connected to Isiah Thomas that when
Thomas left in November, 1997 it was only a matter of time before
the former rookie of the year asked to be moved and it took then-GM
Glen Grunwald almost to that year’s trade deadline to find the
How he returned: It took a while, since it was late one season
when he left and the next year was shortened by a lockout.
Stoudamire finally came back on Jan. 4, 2000 and was the first
player to hear outright anger from the fans. It was so bad, he was
walked a different way from the visitors’ bench to his locker room
to avoid confrontations. He had 22 points in 29 minutes of a 114-90
reaction: Indifference tinged with anger.
He professed originally not to care what the fans thought but
later admitted to being hurt by the reaction of the spectators.
At the other end of the spectrum . . .
KISS AND MAKE UP
In his first game back after leaving as free agent, he endeared
himself to the fans by dashing out to mid-court and kissing the Raptors logo. How could you not love
MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN
The dude’s nickname is the Red Rocket, a man of the people who
rode the TTC, married a Toronto girl and wanted to play for
Canada’s national team. Watch out, Mo, there’s someone gaining on
The T-shirts he used to rip off were the most valuable souvenirs
a fan could get and to this day, when he’s back in Toronto, he’s
mobbed by people who remember his energetic hockey mentality.