From Dime 70: Evan Turner & Dealing With Rising Expectations

By: 08.03.12
Evan Turner

Evan Turner (photo. Li-Ning)

Dime: It seemed like things really started to take off for you once you started having the ball in your hands a lot more.
ET: Well that’s how I grew up playing. I’m used to playing with the ball in my hands. When I got to the League, it was like, “Go stand in the corner.” Then I’m hearing people say I’m a bust and stuff like that. It was frustrating because I grew up a certain player, and now I had to figure out a new way to do things because you are who you are.

I like to think of that Jay-Z quote: “The world can rush, but I’ll wait to be perfect.” I was looking at my NBA career as a sprint, and now I know it’s a marathon. Everything wants to rush everything, but I’m just not like that. I’ve always been a little slow to warm up. Now I am learning to enjoy myself and know that I am in a marathon.

Dime: I think that every NBA player has a moment or moments when they realize that they can play at this level and succeed in the League. What was that moment for you?
ET: I had a really good game against Phoenix my rookie year. I remember people talking crazy about me saying I couldn’t play in the NBA, and I was just like, “You know what? I’m going to shoot every time I touch it.” I did, and I scored a bunch of points and it was like, “Ok, I can play here.” The trick from there was to figure out how blend that with the team to win games. You have to really learn how to play a game within the game. And you have to really learn how to not care what people say about you. I am much happier now that I don’t care what people say about me.

Dime: Warranted or not, Philly fans have the rep for being really tough on their athletes, especially athletes with great expectations. How has you relationship been with the city?
ET: The fans here are great. I am really enjoying myself. I understand the fans and I understand the idea of tough love. And I respect that the fans aren’t afraid to speak their mind.
There was this one time this past season where I had three straight double-doubles – a really great run for me. And this guy came up to me on the street and went, “Yo, you need to step your game up.” I couldn’t help but laugh because I totally respected the guy for approaching me and speaking his mind, but he clearly wasn’t up on what was going on. He was just going off what he heard other people saying.

Dime: Let’s talk about the future. Where do you see you and your teammates over the next several years?
ET: I want to be a multiple-time All-Star. I want to reach the NBA Finals in the next three years – and I think this team can do it. I want to play for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. I want Philly to love us like they love the Phillies and the way they loved the Sixers teams of the early ’00’s. We can do it.

How good can Turner become?

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