If there was anyone who could dethrone Vince Carter as the most hated player in Raptors history, it is this man.
Vince Carter still stands as one of, if not the most widely disliked player in Raptors franchise history. However, as the HQ's Scott Campsall argues, maybe it is time for someone else to take over that illustrious title. And that someone is Hedo Turkoglu.
When SB Nation asked us for a little blurb on who we thought was the most hated player to ever don a Raptors uniform, the first name that crossed my mind was the most obvious one: Vince Carter.
But then I got thinking—that answer is almost too easy. It has been almost a decade since Vince Carter was traded, and at least 3 years since he was a relevant player in the league. Almost immediately this exercise became much more interesting.
The Raptors may not have a long and storied history in terms of wins and success, but they do not lack an extensive history with players that have rubbed the fans the wrong way.
The list of players that either asked to be traded, or left town via free agency is quite long and included a number of high profile players like Damon Stoudemire, Antonio Davis, Tracy McGrady and of course Chris Bosh. But guys like McGrady and Bosh were free agents and, like it or not, had fair reasons to leave. Damon Stoudemire was an interesting case, as he claims he was mislead by Isiah Thomas at the time and has since apologized, perhaps making the situation a little easier for fans to stomach.
On the other hand, there were players that came into town with questionable attitudes or at times, challenged management and the coaching staff for one reason or another like Rafer Alston, Lamond Murray, Mike James or Chris Childs. Each player had their own separate issues, but none had an overwhelmingly negative impact on their team, or at least one that would cause fans to harbor animosity towards them for an extended period of time.
But, there is one player who had brought almost all of those things to the table, on top of being rewarded with one of the richest contracts in franchise history. That player is of course Hedo "Ball" Turkoglu. (I am not the only one that came to this conclusion as almost 300 people voted Turk as the most hated player not named Vince Carter in Raptors history in our poll over the weekend).
In the off-season of 2009 Hedo Turkoglu was coming off of an impressive run to the NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic, and consequently was one of the most sought after free-agents in what was a fairly weak crop of available talent.
The Raptors had a great deal of cap space to work with thanks to a mid-season trade that landed them Shawn Marion and his expiring contract. Although there was some debate as to whether or not the team was actively attempting to sign Marion, the truth is that Marion had little interest in returning to the Raptors.
Either way, Brian Colangelo swung for the fences and offered Turkoglu a five-year $53 million dollar contract, swiping him away from the Portland Trail Blazers who were believed to be the front runners in the Turkoglu sweepstakes—a move that in retrospect I am sure the Blazers are glad they avoided.
At the time Turkoglu became one of the Raptors’ most high profile free-agent signings ever. In Turkoglu, management thought they were getting a veteran small forward with playoff experience that could fit into the lineup and compliment the Raptors' lone All-Star Chris Bosh, and effectively lead the team back to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
On a larger scale, Colangelo had hoped that pairing Turkoglu with Bosh would give Bosh added incentive to re-sign with the team that following offseason. Needless to say, the signing became just another reason for the All-Star to flee the city.
Instead of that major piece, the Dinos ended up acquiring a player that that showed up to training camp out of shape, and was in no hurry to get back into game shape.
Turkoglu would have his effort questioned by just about everybody surrounding the team—the fans, the media, his teammates and eventually the coaches—before things finally came to a head with the infamous nightclub incident and subsequent fallout which resulted in him publicly demanding a trade through the Turkish media.
Turkoglu’s tenure in Toronto was nothing short of disastrous. He displayed an obvious lack of effort on a nightly basis, openly complained about his role on the team, struggled to produce anything close to his performance in Orlando, gave bizarre and charismatic-free interviews and seemingly did just about as much as he could to be as disliked as possible by the fans.
Perhaps worst of all, his poor play was one of the reasons why a flawed but undeniably talented team—even if most of that talent was on the offensive end—collapsed and was unable to even make the playoffs.
Having said all that, I will acknowledge that there is another strong contender for the most hated crown and that is Alonzo Mourning.
Morning did absolutely nothing for the franchise; in fact he never played a single game. His salary was used to help facilitate one of the worst trades the team has ever made and then he refused to show the organization any respect by opting to stay home instead of reporting to the team for a routine physical.
But, at the end of the day the negative impact that Turkoglu had on the Raptors was far worse than that caused by Mourning. Sure, having Mourning on the club would have helped, but not significantly. His not reporting to the team was more of a slap in the face than anything else, which is certainly a reason to dislike the guy, but I’m not so sure that puts him above Turkoglu on this list.
I have argued it before, and I will argue it again, it is clearly time to let go of the all of this hate for Vince Carter and to stop booing the man. It is time for fans to get on with their lives—what happened between Vince and the team happened eight years ago, and although things haven’t turned out well for the Raptors in the post-Vince Carter era, things also haven’t quite gone his way either.
Maybe it’s time that Vince Carter moves over and we let Hedo Turkoglu take his rightful spot at the top of the list of most hated players in Raptors franchise history.