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Hedo Turkoglu thanks Magic fans, Orlando

After Rashard Lewis and the Heat arrived in Orlando, Lewis wanted to go out and get something to eat. The cab driver happened to be a big Magic fan and began talking about the glory days with the Magic about Hedo Turkoglu coming around screens and whipping the ball to Lewis in the corner for three.

It was funny for Lewis thinking about Turkoglu that day. He was not aware of where the Magic were with Turkoglu other than that he was not playing. It was not until that conversation that Lewis discovered the Magic had waived Turkoglu, ending his eight seasons (in nine years) with the Magic.

His lasting legacy though for his teammates was not only what he contributed on the court but the laughs (unintelligible though they may be) that came off it.

"He's most definitely a funny guy," Rashard Lewis said. "Sometimes you got to kick Turk in the butt to get him going. Sometimes he's a little lazy. When it was gametime and it really counted, that's when he rose to the occasion and stepped his game up."

Turkoglu certainly did that in helping guide the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals and transforming himself from an also-ran player with the Spurs into a borderline All Star.

That time was long ago however as Turkoglu's game fell off to the point where a rebuilding Magic franchise no longer wanted him around. His non-guaranteed contract had a deadline on it and the Magic needed to let it go before he cost them even more.

There really are not hard feelings. Turkoglu continues to have warm feelings and appreciation for the city of Orlando, which he shared with Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel after news that he would be released broke:

In the city of Orlando, the fans, they’ve been really great to me. . . . That makes me [feel] really special, and I want to thank them for every great moment I had here with them on and off the court. It was special to me. It’s good memories I will never forget.

Turkoglu said he chooses to remember the good times and not the tumultuous year and a half that ended with him getting cut Friday.

That is probably how most Magic fans will choose to remember him too. The first stint with the Magic was where he became a fan favorite and propeled the Magic to contention. Turkoglu averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in eight years with the Magic.

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Jameer Nelson, now the last remaining member of the 2009 Finals team on the roster, said Turkoglu was an integral part of the team's rebuilding efforts centered around Nelson and Dwight Howard. He was a guy that caused tremendous matchup problems with his size and his ability to handle the ball like a point guard. 

"He brought a lot to the team," Nelson said. "On and off the court he was a great person and obviously did a lot of things for the organization. He is one that I think should go down in history in the Magic organization. He led us and helped lead us in some good years and, at one point, he was part of the rebuilding, and, at one point, he was part of the core."

Certainly Turkoglu deserves mention among some of the team's greatest players of all time. It is unfortunate how he just faded into the background and got unceremoniously dropped as he did.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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