|Some Parting Words For Hedo...|
July 14, 2010 - 5:30 p.m.
Hedo, Hedo, Hedo, we barely even knew you.
Oh yeah, we knew the 'ball' saying, mask refusing, on-court-pooching, cap-destroying, no-foul-drawing Hedo.
We knew the barely talking, camera knocking, suspension getting, barely sweatin' Hedo.
But what about the real man? You are off to Phoenix. We would mourn but for the fact that you are spectacularly unworthy and there are 10 billion more important things to do in the summer. Thing number 6,411: buy a patch kit to repair those old inner tubes the kids never use.
It was just over a year ago, July 9, when you truly entered into the consciousness of Canada's basketball public. There were hundreds of kids for the press conference, an enthralled Turkish community and a lovely storyline: a versatile international player making his way to this cosmopolitan city.
I was excited. Everyone was excited. You were a hybrid, a point forward who could make plays and score. The Orlando Magic had made the NBA Finals by giving you the ball when the money was on the table.
With Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack and Andrea Bargnani on board, there seemed to be limitless possibilities.
You certainly inferred that when you said the club was stacked with "people I want to work with," the day you arrived. "This was easy for me. This is a basketball style I have always admired," you said.
Turns out no.
You are the perfect date who turns out horribly wrong, the poster boy for malcontent athletes who actually punish the teams that sign him. Like Groucho Marx, you would never join any club that would have you. And you never really did.
From the regular lame efforts, to the celebrated one-game suspension for being spied on the town the night after you begged off a game, to your insistence that the team de-emphasize their guards to get you the ball more, yours was a season for the ages.
You had the town at hello. Then came several months of Waiting For Hedo. In 74 tries, you led the Raptors in scoring twice and while you can point to the presence of Bosh please keep in mind that Sonny Weems led the team four times. You were supposed to be a spicy wing player who could devour clunky defences. You turned out to be a chunky player who devoured spicy wings.
The highlight, of course, was The Ball Interview when Jack Armstrong asked you to explain a temporary (weren't they all) spike in your play.
"Ball,"you said. Just ball.
Ball became a catchword. People started selling "Just Say Ball" t-shirts online. It distanced you from the crowd in a way your play never could.
Then came the contrite apology to fans the day after the season ended.
"I know I upset a lot of people," you said, "but it really wasn't on purpose."
Oh, all right then. As long as it just by accident.
Let us be clear. We would gladly watch 24 hours straight of Jim Gray interviewing LeBron James with only sporadic breaks to eat, drink and retch if that's what it took to seal this deal.
And so Hedo, we say to you, take your ball and go home. I know this might upset you, but it really wasn't on purpose.