Turkish Delight Rookie Hidayet Turkoglu is the Kings' brother from the other side of the planet

April 23, 2001
April 23, 2001

Table of Contents
April 23, 2001

Pro Football
Allen Iverson

Turkish Delight Rookie Hidayet Turkoglu is the Kings' brother from the other side of the planet

At first glance, Hidayet (Hedo) Turkoglu seems to have the NBA
angles all figured out. It's 75 minutes before the Kings will tip
off at San Antonio, and the 22-year-old Sacramento swingman
coolly flags down a locker-room attendant while giving an
interview. "Can I get a pizza?" Turkoglu asks. "Mozzarella
cheese. No toppings." When the small Pizza Hut box arrives,
however, Turkoglu betrays his naivete by earnestly offering a
reporter the first slice. The move all but screams rookie!

This is an article from the April 23, 2001 issue Original Layout

Then again, Turkoglu (pronounced TUR-ko-lou) is no ordinary
rookie. The second Turk to play in the league--Mirsad Turkcan came
to the NBA in 1998-99--he took up the game when he was 10, tagging
along when his older brother, Neyzat, would shoot hoops. He
signed with the club Efes Pilsen in his hometown of Istanbul when
he was 17, and two seasons later the club locked him up with a
nine-year deal. By the time Turkoglu was 20, he was the best
player in Turkey, a reputation he enhanced last year, when he
averaged 13.6 points (on 62.6% shooting) in 22 tournament games
to lead Efes Pilsen to the EuroLeague semifinals.

That's when Turkoglu shocked his parents and irked his club by
giving the NBA a try. "I couldn't prove myself anymore over
there," Turkoglu says. "Everybody told me to stay, but I want to
be with the best players." After Sacramento drafted him with the
16th pick and signed him to a four-year, $5.6 million deal,
Turkoglu paid $1.5 million to buy out his contract with Efes

Turkoglu can shoot, pass and handle the ball, and though he
carries only 220 pounds on his 6'8" frame, he has shown a
willingness to bang with the NBA's big bodies. Through Sunday he
was averaging 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds and had forced his way
into Sacramento's veteran rotation. More impressive is the
assurance he has shown on the court, including his un-rookie-like
penchant for waving his teammates away when he has the ball so he
can have room to create from the wing. That confidence is one
reason the Kings believe Turkoglu has the makings of a star.
"He's not afraid to do anything," says coach Rick Adelman. "He's
not afraid to take the shot; he's not afraid to mix it up. He's
got that mental toughness you need to be good."

That toughness has served Turkoglu well in rapidly adjusting to a
new culture and language. He was fortunate to land on a Kings
team with Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic, who would call out
defensive rotations to Turkoglu in Serbian, his parents' native
tongue. Before long, though, Turkoglu was so chatty in the locker
room that his penchant for calling teammates Brother Vlade and
Brother Peja was appropriated by the rest of the Kings. "Now it's
'Brother Everybody' in here," says Chris Webber. "It's our

Brother Hedo has already persuaded his parents, with whom he
speaks twice a day, that he did the right thing in leaving for
the NBA. They, along with his countrymen, can follow his exploits
in the Turkish media or on, on which Turkoglu's page has
logged a half-million hits, ranking among the league leaders. "I
wanted to compare myself with the best," Turkoglu says. "If I can
play in the NBA, then I am one of the best in the world."

--Pete McEntegart