Tuesday , Oct , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Hedo Turkoglu on Toronto Raptors’ struggles: it’s not the players

Hedo Turkolgu was predictably booed in his first return to Toronto on Sunday.

“People have to realize it’s not always the players,” said Turkoglu. “People just got to see what’s really going on and make a judgment after that. I’m not a random guy. Chris (Bosh) was an all-star. Other guys, all-stars, too. You have to ask them what was the reason that they left. Then people will realize . . . instead of just going after the players. (Vince) Carter, Tracy (McGrady), whatever. I know (Bosh), I hope he doesn’t get booed. He gave a lot of good stuff for this organization. I think he deserves to be welcomed in a nice way.”

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Hedo Turkoglu is right.

Ultimately, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is at fault for the miserable state of the Toronto Raptors. The wealthy sports property owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, MLS’ Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre, and the Raptors.

This company prints money. Hand over fist. Despite the Maple Leafs’ strong start, winning comes second.

Fans know this. They hold MLSE accountable. They criticize GM Bryan Colangelo and the organization while sippin` double-doubles with cream at Tim Hortons, by the water cooler at work, over Molson Canadians at the pub, and during 3-on-3 runs at the playground and ice rink.

However, Colangelo doesn’t play the games. Turkoglu does.

Colangelo, for all his errors in judgment and misgivings about assembling a team of Euros from every semi-republic on the other side of the Atlantic, punches the clock and is professional. While in Toronto, Turkoglu’s effort and professionalism was, well, mediocre.

With a $53 million contract and skills to burn, the Turkish swing became a target. Five daily newspapers, three national sports channels, and some of the game’s most loyal fans went at him.

It wasn’t pretty. In fact, it became personal. Toronto and Turkoglu had no choice but to part ways this summer.

Hard feelings still exist. They’ll always be there, too. So Turkoglu should expect Toronto fans to boo. Instead of complaining, Turkoglu would be wise to accept his share of the blame.

After all, the organization didn’t arrive at training camp fat and happy. The organization didn’t go through the motions all year. And the organization didn’t skip a game with the flu and hit up the clubs just a few hours later.

Turkoglu did.

The sooner he accepts this, the better off Turkoglu will be. As for MLSE and the Raptors, they may be beyond help.

–Oly Sandor.

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