Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 12/30/11
The NBA lockout was frustrating and often puzzling, but one positive to come out of the 149 day work stoppage was exposing how badly many people missed pro basketball. Count me among them. Sometimes you dont appreciate what youve got until its taken away. Since the lockout ended, I have a renewed appreciation of the opportunity to announce Magic games on TV, and a renewed appreciation of the high skill level the players possess. The Magics Hedo Turkoglu is a prime example. Its easy to overlook what an exceptionally good basketball player Turkoglu is. We have been reminded of that fact repeatedly over the first week of the season, as the 32 year old veterans varied talents have been on display. Running the Magics offense in the half-court. Attacking the basket in pick and rolls with Dwight Howard. Knocking down pull-up jumpers and step back threes. Using his 610 length to effectively defend opposing forwards. Turk has an impressive overall package of basketball skills and instincts, and when he plays well, the Magic almost always follow suit. That, of course, was part of the problem for the Magic in the post-season against Atlanta last spring. Turkoglu struggled against the Hawks, shooting 29 from the field (23 from the three point line). His play was one factor in Orlandos demise. Contrast that to Hedos post-season play in the Magics run to the NBA Finals in 2009, when he averaged 16 points per game and his overall play was key to the teams success. Then there is the Turkoglu clutch factor. If he doesnt hit the game winning three at Philadelphia in game 4, the Magic may very well have never gotten past the Sixers in the first round. But thats been Turks M.O. throughout his Magic career. He makes big plays. Game winning shot against Boston on national TV in 2008. Game winning shot at Portland in December of 2008. Game winning shot at Chicago on New Years Eve in 2007. The perfect lob pass to Howard for the game winning dunk as time expired against the Spurs in 2007. If you think about some of the great games or moments in Magic history, Turkoglus image comes to mind in many of them. Hedo has played over 800 games in his NBA career, more than half of them with the Magic. His name is sprinkled throughout the teams record book. Number 3 in points scored (behind only Nick Anderson and Howard). Number 3 in made three point shots (behind Dennis Scott and Anderson). Number 4 in rebounds (behind Howard, Anderson and Horace Grant). Number 4 in assists (behind Darrell Armstrong, Jameer Nelson and Anderson). I wonder if Magic Nation truly realizes the impact Hedo Turkoglu has had on the franchise. When the lockout ended, Turkoglus name was mentioned in trade rumors involving teammate Dwight Howard. He and his contract were to be somewhat of a throwaway piece in the rampant speculation. Turks psyche was temporarily wounded. He couldnt understand what he had done to deserve such negative publicity. The Magic organization has since reassured Hedo of his value to the franchise, and to his credit, Turkoglu has resumed playing the game he loves at a high level. For me, I will simply continue to enjoy watching the greatness that is on display each night in the NBA, including the phenomena of all that is Hedo Turkoglu.
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