I wrote a column for Wednesday's Bee after speaking with former King Hedo Turkoglu, but he was so gracious with his time Monday afternoon, I wanted to add a few other notes. (And in case anyone missed it, his Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime earlier tonight to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals). Hedo played well, finishing with eight assists, seven rebounds, and 15 points, though he was only 5-of-13. His greatest asset remains his versatility, and his abilities as a 6-foot-10 playmaker. Jameer Nelson's season-ending injury prompted Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to demand even more of Turkoglu, a self-proclaimed slow developer. And, of course, all-around good guy and one of the most popular former Kings.
During our 45-minute conversation Monday, Hedo said he hoped Geoff Petrie was able to make significant offseason moves, maybe adding an exciting draft selection, to bring the buzz back to Arco. "The fans there are not asking for much," he said. "When we play there, I always get a standing ovation. My teammates turn to me and say, 'What did you do for these people?' I was only in Sacramento three years, but we had a great journey."
He also reminded me that current Kings assistant general manager Jason Levien - who was his agent/attorney at the time - extricated him from his contract with Efes Pilsen, the team he played for in his native Turkey. "I had to pay $1.5 million to get out of the contract," said Hedo, "and he was the guy. Then we started our journey."
Turkoglu, 30, can opt out of his contract with the Magic this summer, but he doesn't sound inclined to go anywhere. He enjoyed an excellent season, though his scoring dipped to 17 points and his field-goal percentage dropped to 41 percent. He described his team as "a bunch of young guys who don't have a lot of playoff experience, but who play hard. We don't have experienced players like CWebb and Vlade Divac. That team had incredible chemistry. But I was just a role player there. I have to be honest. I wanted to play more. Same thing in San Antonio. Here, what we are doing means more because Stan (Van Gundy) wants me to play the way I always want, with the ball in my hands. We just have to keep playing hard and see what happens. It's funny. Everyone back home is getting up at 3 o'clock in the morning to watch. They love what we're doing."