For the first time since 2004 and the second time in its history, the NBA will host preseason games in China: the NBA China Games. The Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chinaís Menís National Team will take part in games beginning on October 17 and will feature two matchups between Orlando and Cleveland as well as an exhibition game between Orlando and Chinaís National Team
While fans and players eagerly await tipoff, NBA athletes are learning about what China has to offer. NBA.comís Mo Wang sat down with Orlandoís Hedo Turkoglu to get the inside scoop from Turkoglu about the Magic, his hometown food, his experiences in China and much more.
NBA.com: How was the trip to China?
Hedo Turkoglu: It was goodÖ It was long but it was good. It was fun. Hopefully we will get adjusted to the time. We will be here until Saturday.
NBA.com: People say Turkoglu is the best all-around player Turkey has ever produced.
Hedo Turkoglu: Itís very nice to hear that people think that way. I really appreciate it. And I would like to thank them. They were always my fans. Since I was a kid, I always liked to be more all-around. I can do it all, like you said, create my own shot. My teammates and I rebound, so I think this is the part that makes me feel good.
NBA.com: You said on your website that Istanbul, Miami and New York are your favorite cities. Will Shanghai or Beijing be on that list one day?
Hedo Turkoglu: Yeah, I have never been here. So I do not have much to say about it. I donít want to break anyoneís heart. This is my first time here. It would be a lie if I said that my favorite city is Shanghai or Beijing. But right now I get a chance to visit, go to places and walk around. Hopefully, I will enjoy it here and post it as one of my favorite cities on my website.
NBA.com: You said during one of the radio shows recently that Turkey has the best food in the world.
Hedo Turkoglu: You know I come from Turkey, so I got to support my country. We have pretty much good stuff. I think that you guys have the same mentality by saying China has the best food. Probably you will think the same way. So, I say Turkey has the best food and the best places to visit. But I am not saying that I donít like Chinese food. (Laughing)
NBA.com: Correct me if I pronounce it wrong, what is ďdonerĒ?
Hedo Turkoglu: Doner. Itís like a big piece of meat that cooks around the fire. And then you slice it then eat it. Itís very delicious. If you try it you will like it. Itís one of the easy and common foods in our country for anyone to remember.
NBA.com: Letís talk about the Eurobasket. You scored almost 20 points per game, but Turkey didnít do well.
Hedo Turkoglu: Iím very upset about this. Our National Team did not do much since the 2001 European Championship when we played in our country. Since then, we didnít do well. There has been some new and young guys who have joined our team since. When they go back to their teams they do not get enough time to play. So it really gave us a hard time during the championship because they didnít really play much on their team. So when they came to the National Team, during the two months, it is very hard for them to produce something. They had been sitting around the whole day long and doing nothing. They came this summer, during the short period of time, they tried to do something. I think thatís our major problem right now that we have to give a lot of minutes to those young guys, so that they can become more confident, get playing time and gain experience. This is really important because beside this (Eurobasket) we couldnít make the Beijing Olympics, maybe just because of that. So, we can take no more of those kinds of mistakes. I think all the Turkish teams and clubs really helped us, because those kids are our future. We have to play as much as we can till the time comes. At the end, those guys have to play and bring the National Team to somewhere. Again, itís very important. Starting from this year, they will get a lot of minutes to play. Two years from now the World Championship will be held in Turkey. We will need those guys to be on the team and play, and hopefully everyone will help them. Because the main guys, such as me, Okur and other guys playing in the Euro League, we got a lot of minutes. However, itís not just three, four or five guys on a team. We need 12 guys to make one team. We need something from them too, to help the team at anytime. When the coach calls them, they have to be ready, like everywhere and the NBA. Young guys have to be ready. Hopefully, they will be ready to play the World Championships, and do something in front of our fans.
NBA.com: I heard that you played point guard before.
Hedo Turkoglu: Yeah, when I was young I was playing in different positions,. Now I guess that Iím worth more than most of the guys. I was like 6-7 or 6-8 and playing point guard. It really helped me out. As the time went on, I moved to different spots. It helped me to read and play the game. I think thatís the only difference I can say right now.
NBA.com: Now you are matching up with much smaller players at your position, do you think that provides you with an advantage during the games?
Hedo Turkoglu: Yeah, you have to take the advantage, which it is. Shorter guys, you go to post up (7:20), taller guys, you go play one-on-one. You got to take the advantage. I just read the situation during the game and try to score. I wait for the right time, doing the right things, and helping the team to work towards the way that we want to be. Hopefully on the new team we will have a nice start in the beginning of the season and continue like that.
NBA.com: What do you think about the new coach, Stan Van Gundy?
Hedo Turkoglu: He is a very nice guy. He is a good coach. Right now we are in the learning period. We are still trying to learn from his system, which he wants to help us with. ItĎs going to be good for us during the preseason, getting to know what he wants from us and what we want from him. Hopefully we will be rebounding very well and we will start the season off right.
NBA.com: Everyone is talking about Boston Celticsí ďBig ThreeĒ right now, do you think they can win it all?
Hedo Turkoglu: I donít know. Itís not really my concern right now, how they are going to play. My concern right now is what we are going to do. We made our goal making the playoffs last season. But itís not enough for us. We have a new coach and new guys who have come in. Hopefully we set our goal higher and try to make it up all this year. I donít really care about them. Probably they donít care about us either at this point. I donít care about who makes what and where. All I wish is the best of luck to them. Thatís the only thing I can say right now.
NBA.com: Rashard Lewis joined the team during the off-season, what do you think he can bring to the team?
Hedo Turkoglu: He is a great player. He has got All-Star experience. Besides being a great guy and a great player, he wants to be a team guy. He will bring a lot of experience on the court, since he has been in the league a long time. And also he is young. Hopefully we will be rebounding very well because we are all very young and we have the same thing in the mind. He is hurt right now. Hopefully he will come back soon and start a great season.
NBA.com: What is the biggest change for the team this season?
Hedo Turkoglu: Everybody learned from last year about what our role is and what our goal is. By bringing in a new coach, it will set our goal higher. He is a very good coach. He proved himself in the league and did very good things, as we know in Miami. Hopefully, we will have a good chemistry. He gave young guys a lot of minutes and chances. Everyone had a good summer. I missed us playing together. We have been doing very well so far. We played three games and won two of them. Like I said, itís not really a big deal right now to play preseason. The big thing will start Oct. 31, when the real time comes. We will move on from there.
NBA.com: What are you looking for in the next seven to eight days?
Hedo Turkoglu: I just want to have a good time and get to know China better. I know we have a lot of things going on and a lot of places to visit. Hopefully I will post it on my website as my favorite place to visit.
NBA.com: Whatís your favorite video game?
Hedo Turkoglu: I am a big soccer fan. I played a little bit of Resident Evil also when I have time. I donít really play video games. After a long travel for games and practices, I just want to relax and watch TV, which is fun too. Friends come over to play pool and video games during my time off. Itís one of the fun times.
NBA.com: Have you learned any Chinese yet?
Hedo Turkoglu: They gave us a book. But itís really hard to pronounce, like ďni haoĒ.
ďNi haoĒ, which means ďHelloĒ.
Yeah, hello and some other words, but they are very hard to pronounce. They should show us how to pronounce them in Chinese, which is easier when you spell it out. Itís hard to learn. Hopefully, I will learn some.
NBA.com: What is your personal goal for the upcoming season?
Hedo Turkoglu: I want to have a better year compared to last year. As a basketball player on a team, I just want to do my part, what they want from me. Like scoring, rebounding, and passing, all of those things. I just want to prepare myself in the best way and be active at all times. It will help me and my teammates. I am looking forward to having a good season with my team.
NBA.com: Letís talk a little bit about your personal website, hedo79.com.
Hedo Turkoglu: Throughout this summer I was very excited. I just want people to get to know me better and read about what I am doing before the games and after the games on the website. Where did I go, how did I do it, and any kind of news that they want to know about me. Hopefully it will help them to understand what kind of person I am, what I do, what I like and what I donít like.
NBA.com: You are getting famous in China, are you going to have a Chinese version of your personal website?
Hedo Turkoglu: Why not? Itís important to reach to the people here and to get to know them. It will be nice to have something to look back on later when I am retried.