by Kent Sterling
After the Pacers lackluster win against the Milwaukee Bucks last night, I wanted to interview the bounty reaped for Danny Granger, so I asked a few questions of Evan Turner for tomorrow’s “Ahead of the Curve” (11a-1p) on 1070 the Fan.
When the microphone was turned off, I asked him about playing for the Illinois Wolves during summer basketball while he was in high school. Turner was surprised, “How’d you know I played for the Wolves?”
I told him that the Wolves were one of the few teams that really tested my son’s summer team, the Spiece Central Stars. Turner said, “The Stars? The team with JaJuan Johnson? Man, they could shoot. Those Indianapolis guards can shoot the hell out of the ball! Loved playing the Stars. Had some wars against the Stars.”
We spent the next five minutes talking about games played in empty gyms eight years ago between kids destined to play in college, and some like Turner who went on to success in the NBA.
Turner recalled specific moments of those games with the kind of clarity reserved for those who truly value the experience of playing basketball, and I instantly liked him.
His affability wasn’t surprising as Turner used a term I had previously never heard used on the radio during an interview with Dan Dakich on 1070 the Fan. Dan asked a question about Turner’s former Ohio State teammate Mark Titus, who has become a very successful author and writer for grantland.com.
Turner replied that the last time he saw Titus, he put him in a headlock and gave him a wedgie. Dan recalled the story of a guy who recently died because of the damage done by a wedgie, and Turner said that next time he saw Titus he would give him a “tittie twister” instead.
Any professional athlete who threatens a former teammate on the radio with a tittie twister is 100% guaranteed to be a great guy, who enjoys amusing himself as much as he does others.
Turner has the advantage of also being a very good basketball player, which is exactly what he has always been all the way back eight years to his time with the Wolves.
He was never the flashiest player, but he was always productive. His teammate, Demetri McCamey, dominated the ball for the Wolves, and when the game hung in the balance, it was always McCamey who tried to step up to win the game.
Turner was graceful, quiet, and productive for the Wolves, and for that reason I had no doubt when the trade was made to bring he and Lavoy Allen to the Pacers there was no reason to worry about him finding a way to fit in with his new teammates in a vastly different role than what he enjoyed with the 76ers.
If Turner was able to subvert his game to play alongside with McCamey, he would have no problems playing with the comparatively generous George Hill, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, and David West. I omit Lance Stephenson for two reasons – Turner will often substitute for Stephenson, and I think it might be a challenge to play with Stephenson, even for the best tempered player.
I love Stephenson’s attitude and game, but the occasionally wacky turnovers would drive me crazy as a teammate.
It’s to be seen what effect Turner will have on the Pacers stretch drive as they try to maintain their game-and-a-half lead for home court advantage throughout the playoffs, but he will be a good teammate and most importantly to Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, a good quote.