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Turiaf sticking by France's side despite broken wrist

By Wendell Maxey, Special to
Posted Sep 16 2011 11:42AM

Don't let the broken hand fool you. Ronny Turiaf is ready to go.

Like every other NBA player around the league in these uncertain times, the New York Knicks and French National Team forward is checking his watch and emails from the players association often and waiting on the final word that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement has been reached and the NBA lockout is finally over.

He might be waiting a while.

Negotiations between NBA owners and the players association have yielded no resolution or progress in starting the 2011-2012 season on time.

"You have to do your due diligence as a player to stay informed," said Turiaf, who is out of EuroBasket competition after breaking his hand in mid-August against Great Britain.

"We'll just have to wait and see if an agreement comes in the near future. My job is just to be ready at all times."

Back in the States, NBA players remain bonded about possibly losing games because of the lockout.

The solidarity extends overseas as guys like Turiaf compete for their national teams, a unity which wasn't present during the 1998-99 work stoppage. Back then the NBA was limited to a 50-game season. This time around players -- and through the guidance of union executive director Billy Hunter and the NBPA -- are prepared to miss the entire 2011-2012 NBA season.

"The lockout is part of the business and we'll have to deal with the consequences, and as a professional basketball player you do everything you can to stay ready. That's why we are called professionals."

Despite the players union being open to making revenue concessions, owners still insist on a hard salary cap and talks between the two sides have once again reached a stalemate with no further negotiation meetings scheduled at this point.

"Right now for myself it's not hard, because it's not really effecting me per se' on an everyday basis because I am able to work out -- or was able to work out -- and play for my national team, so my mind isn't so much on the lockout," Turiaf explained, before noting it's difficult for NBA teams to go about their regular offseason business.

"The lockout makes it hard on teams like us because we really don't know what we have to work with right now. Hopefully with free agency we can pick up pieces that would help everybody and relieve pressure off of everybody. But the group we had at the end of last year was a good group. We were dedicated to doing anything we could and make something positive happen in New York."

The Knicks went 42-40 last season and ended a franchise-worst streak of nine straight losing seasons to earn its first playoff berth since 2004, but were eventually swept by the Boston Celtics in four games.

Too much Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Not enough Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

"To feel the electricity in that city during our playoffs was special. It didn't work out the way we wanted it to go, and now I'm looking forward to building on that experience with the Knicks."

Until then, Turiaf goes about his job as team cheerleader for Les Bleus at EuroBasket.

Still one of the favorites to advance to the 2012 London Olympics, not having Turiaf's minutes and energy off the bench playing behind the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah has hurt the team in stretches.

"We wish he could be out there with us playing in this tournament," said small forward Nicolas Batum.

"He can really help us out there but his injury happened so early that we've had to fight without him."

Turiaf fractured the fourth metacarpal of his left hand his hand in a game against Great Britain at the London Invitational Tournament and travelled back to Paris to be examined further before re-joining the French National Team.

"I'm out for another week or so and am just waiting to see if the fracture is fully healed or not and then I should be good to go," Turiaf said.

"I really don't have any other choice, so it's not something I think about if it's hard or not to not play. It's not by choice and is now just a chance for me to deal with the adversity. And when I fall down I'm going to get up and run at you even faster, so I have no doubt that something great will come from my play in the long run."

It's not the first time the French National Team has had to deal with injuries.

In a six-day stretch before the start of EuroBasket, France lost Turiaf and Antoine Diot with chronic back problems but Les Bleus has shown in Lithuania they can stay united and persevere.

"That's the force of our national team to have players that are capable at playing a high-level game regardless who is out there on the floor," added Turiaf.

"It's still an honor to be here -- hopefully I'll be able to keep playing for France for a couple more years."

Wendell Maxey is a freelance writer based in Germany.


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