Savage: Turk Ready For Road Ahead

By Dan Savage
September 27, 2012

ORLANDO – It’s crystal clear from looking at him.

It’s absolutely apparent from talking to him.

Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu is in the right condition and frame of mind as Orlando prepares to tip off its 2012-13 NBA campaign.

This past season and offseason were extremely tough on the small forward out Turkey. He had to deal with an assortment of injuries last season, including a facial fracture and a lower-back ailment.

So instead of playing with the Turkish national team this offseason, Turkoglu opted for rest and rehab before beginning his own offseason-conditioning program.

“I wasn’t able to rest in many, many years, so I had to really do a good investment on my body, because I faced a lot of injuries throughout the year, including my face, my back and other stuff,” said Turkoglu, who now appears in fantastic shape. “I needed some time to rehab and take care of myself, so it was a good summer for me.”

But perhaps even more important than his sound body is his sound mind. Turk is the first to admit that having his named tied to Dwight Howard trade rumors took it’s toll on him.

As a result of the facial fracture and perhaps mental stress, the veteran forward notched just 8.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists during the Magic’s 2012 First Round playoff series against the Pacers, his lowest total of any postseason series he’s ever participated in as a member of the Magic.

However, he’s extremely pleased to have all that behind him and is now focused on his future in Orlando.

“I just have to keep working hard – harder than everybody – to keep myself in this situation,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of competition coming out and a lot of young guys coming out and I’m just trying to put myself in the best situation I can to be ready for all of those challenges.”

Over the past three weeks, Turk has been training at Amway Center and also trying to get to know new Magic General Manager Rob Hennigan as well as Head Coach Jacque Vaughn.

“I was able to meet with those guys, talk and to get to know each other,” he explained. “They seem like good people. I am really excited for me and for the whole Orlando Magic organization.”

The Magic’s small forward can already tell that Vaughn is going to share his wisdom from his playing days as well as instill a hard work ethic and unified team culture.

“As a coach, I know he is going to share his experience with us and hopefully we will become a good team,” Turkoglu said. “We are going to go out there and play hard, do the best we can and try to put ourselves in a better situation.”

Since returning to Orlando, Turk’s had a lot of interaction with fans, including getting to meet some of the team’s new season ticket holders at the organization’s Select-A-Seat event last weekend.

Turk was eager to show his support to fans and was encouraged by their enthusiasm for the next chapter in the franchise’s history books.

“They were all excited about the team and the new additions,” he said. “I told them, ‘it’s going to be exciting.’”

Along with being there for the high marks, Turk’s hopeful that fans maintain their support for the Magic during the difficult stretches of the upcoming campaign as the team attempts to build chemistry, develop young players and improve as a unit.

“The fans make us who we are,” he said. “All I want from them is to keep supporting us, believing in us and believing in this organization. And we’ll get to where the organization wants to be. Those things just take some time. We will get there.”

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