Is Pau Gasol tougher than Hedo Turkoglu?

For a long time, Pau Gasol was described as “soft.” It’s a word we heard a lot after the Lakers fell to Boston in the 2008 NBA Finals, when Pau was pushed around by Kevin Garnett and the rest of Boston’s frontcourt. I never bought that crap in the first place, but if Gasol was soft, what do we call Hedo Turkoglu?

Let’s see – Turkoglu signed a huge deal with the Toronto Raptors this summer. Now, he’s sitting out most (all??) of the pre-season after missing training camp. We heard rumblings of quad tendinitis, but for the most part, it’s described as fatigue.

Seriously, fatigue?

Yes, Turkoglu played in the NBA Finals last season, meaning he was on the court until the middle of June. Then, he represented Turkey at EuroBasket, playing about two weeks of basketball in Poland. It’s certainly understandable that he’d be tired, but how is that still a factor? Shouldn’t Hedo Turkoglu, who makes millions and millions of dollars to play basketball, be in shape? It seems especially bad after signing a lucrative contract with a new team.

Some might argue that it’s just training camp and pre-season. That it won’t matter as long as Hedo’s healthy for the start of the season. I’d say that with nine new faces, along with new offensive and defensive schemes, it’s plenty important. In fact, it’s borderline inexcusable.

Here’s another thing – Pau Gasol also played in the NBA Finals. He also played in EuroBasket (more, in fact).

AND HE’S PLAYING RIGHT NOW!

So why is Hedo so tired if Gasol isn’t? I thought of age first, but Turkoglu is 30 while Pau is 29. Maybe, as it was suggested to me, Turkgolu spent very little time working out this summer, between negotiating with teams and moving his family. Fine, but if that’s the case, he shouldn’t have played in EuroBasket. Or, he’s just soft.

I haven’t heard an explanation for this that makes sense. Nobody else seems to understand it any more than I do. All I know is that Hedo’s getting a pass from the local media, who should be asking more questions about this situation. As an outsider looking in, I think it’s ridiculous. Let’s just say it’s a pretty unimpressive start to a five-year stay in Toronto.

And again, why isn’t Pau tired? If he’s considered soft, Turkoglu is baby food.

-DL

Note: Michael Grange is thinking along the same lines. From his blog:

“I wrote about it in the paper today, but the whole Turkoglu thing is officially seeming strange to me. How long does a 30-year-old professional athlete need to recover? It’s basketball, not the Tour de France or ultra-marathoning. The NBA Finals were over June 14th. The European championships were held from Sept. 7-20. Turkey played nine 40-minute games. I accept the notion that missing the first week of training camp — giving Turkoglu two weeks after the end of Eurobasket made some sense. But last night Turkoglu was talking vaguely about suiting up in a week from now, which would give him nearly a month off. It takes a month to recover? Really? Isn’t part of the reason you’re paid $10.5-million as a professional athlete to make sure you’re prepared for the rigours of your job?”

Exactly.

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