Minutes after Indiana pulled off the Paul George blockbuster this summer, Pacers center Myles Turner asked management for his new running mates’ phone numbers. Building an early rapport, especially with Victor Oladipo, would serve as the cement needed to solidify the franchise’s new young cornerstones. “We kinda just grew from there,” Turner says. He wanted to learn about Oladipo the man as much as Oladipo the guard. “The dude actually sings!”
Flash forward to mid-March, and the Pacers improbably stand fourth in the Eastern Conference, boasting a 41–30 record. “I called it right before training camp,” Turner swears. “I said we were going to be a top-five playoff seed. Nobody believed me, everyone just kind of laughed it off.” Indiana has turned out to be far from a punchline. With Turner and Oladipo sharing the floor, the Pacers boast a 6.9 point net rating, per NBA.com. And when both players are in the starting lineup, Indy is 30–15 this season. You could say the inside-out duo has fit together like snuggly constructed Legos.
Turner has assembled myriad tiny brick figures dating back to his childhood, when the Pacers center once fashioned a Legos miniature NBA court. The replica was complete with players whose feet were fastened to a platform, which aspiring professionals such as Turner could flick in order to launch the game’s tiny ball towards the hoop. His parents, David and Mary, barred Turner from playing video games until he departed for his lone year at Texas. “So I had to find ways to entertain myself,” Turner said. “I was always putting s--- together.”
He built dozens of Bionicle action figures, a series of multicolor robotic warriors, and relished piecing together puzzles. When devoid of a new toy, Turner would make life-sized robots and spaceships out of household items like cardboard boxes, old soda cans and bottles and duct tape. “Your mind, it definitely works at a different pace when you’re younger.”
Turner was allowed to watch movies. After Mary gifted him the Star Wars trilogy, he found his second love after basketball. “I watched them over and over and over again.” Perhaps a giant child, clearly different from his peers, found solace in an alternate reality. “I’m not sure how I related to it, it just really caught my attention,” he said. Turner’s passion for the series is alive and well. He saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi twice in theaters, always conscious to sneak his 7-foot frame into the back row. He’s watched the film once at home, as well.
Amid the fall previews for the box office hit, Turner came across an advertisement for a giant Lego model of the Death Star on Twitter. “I was like damn, that would be dope as hell,” Turner says. “If I’m not doing anything, let me put this thing together. And then the Death Star led to Millennium Falcon, Millenium Falcon led to Star Destroyers.” Turner caught Star Wars Lego fever. “I went by Toys 'R' Us and legit went on a spree and bought a whole bunch.”
The Death Star is comprised of 4,016 pieces and 23 minifigures, stretching 16 inches high and wide and retailing at $499.99. He built the entire 2,000-piece Star Destroyer over seven-straight hours in mid-December. “I was really bored. We had the day off,” Turner says. “It was cold as shit outside, so I was like, ‘You know what? Let me put one of these things together today.’” He ordered takeout, blasted music and beamed NBA and college basketball games all afternoon and into the evening.
The construction wasn’t nearly as seamless as the Pacers’s new roster blended together. The Destroyer features flaps that, when lifted, reveal an interior compartment for minifigures to steer the ship. And that space is far too miniscule for an NBA center’s fingers to operate dexterously. So Turner called upon his housemate, childhood friend Corey Carter, to sneak into the Destroyer’s crevices and complete the installation. “He’s a little fella, so he actually got in there and he helped me out with what I had to really maneuver around,” Turner says.
When building the 1,500-piece Millenium Falcon, Turner arrived at page 47 of the replica’s direction booklet, only to realize he forgot to fasten a smaller piece from the very beginning. It derailed the entire construction process. “I threw a rage. I was hot. I was pissed, dude, you don’t even understand,” Turner says. The error backtracked the project a full week.
Turner is currently two weeks into a 1,000 piece puzzle of Yoda. All it takes is a Star Wars-themed craft to keep one of the premiere young NBA centers occupied. He has already finished three other Stars Wars puzzles, in hopes of framing the entire collection. The puzzles have proven more taxing, “especially when every damn piece looks the same, it can get tough,” Turner says. After the season he, Oladipo and Indiana have enjoyed, it’s about time he encountered a little adversity.