By: Nick Gibson / @euro_adventures
Originally tweeted by Turkish journalist Ismael Senol as an ankle injury, @CSNBullsInsider cleared it up for us: it’s a broken left fibula. Just so we’re on the same page, that diagnosis isn’t any cheerier than the first. Poor Omer will have to tag along with Brian Scalabrine on the Bulls’ sidelines in a designer suit, a cast beneath his britches.
For all of us who consider the offseason anything but off, the Bulls’ imminent demise at the hands of the Heat is not the issue; August 31st is. That’s when Omer’s Turkish squad has a blind date with either Portugal, Hungary or Finland in Panevėžys, Lithuania for Eurobasket 2011.
Last year Mehmet Okur missed his team’s run to Silver and frankly, nobody noticed. They were busy gazing upward as Bogdan Tanjevic orchestrated a defensive light show for two and a half weeks en route to a shiny silver medal.
Despite Omer’s pedestrian professional résumé, he will be much more difficult to replace. Losing Okur means losing a shot maker, but Ersan Ilyasova and Hedo Turkoglu had no problems ripping the nets from the forward spots while Omer Anan and Kerem Tunceri took care of business from outside.
On the other end of things, Okur’s slothful presence would’ve weighed down Tanjevic’s fiery defense, which ferris wheeled teams out of their respective rhythms before leaving them to die in the Bosphorus. The Turks let up just 66 PPG, holding Mother Russia to 56 and China to just 40 along the way. It was like shooting teams of fish in a giant, Turkish barrel. With a giant, Turkish bazooka.
Check him soldier up on Wade with this bloody rejection. Filthy.
Between Anan and ELA blogger Sinan Güler (4th in steals per game at 2.1 in only 15 MPG), the star and crescent boasted two of FIBA 2010’s finest perimeter defenders, but the house would’ve collapsed in on itself were it not for the interior intimidation of Kerem Gonlüm, Semih Erden and most importantly, our man Omer whose 1.2 blocks/game in just 19 minutes were good for 8th best in the competition.
Yet as Mehmet’s bad back paved the paint for Asik and Erden to shine, there’s no Turkish giant with feet large enough to fill Omer’s stompin’ shoes. Enes Kanter? Doubt he’ll play. Even if he does, he’ll be shaking the rust off after a year of going one-on-one with folding chairs.
Oguz Savas? He had an opportunity to sparkle when Mirsad Turkcan and ELA favorite Gasper Vidmar powered down for Fenerbahçe Ülker in the Euroleague season, but we all know how that turned out.
I guess journalists aren’t supposed to root for anything in life, but that’s boring. And considering I’m typing this for free with a Landshark in hand, I don’t think I’ll slap Journalist on the business card just yet. So let us cast ethics aside, shall we? It would be delightfully chilling to see Turkey ascend to the medal stand this Summer in Kaunas. After wading in the foamy tide of Turkish hoop fans last summer, I stand firmly behind my assertion that Istanbul can and will be the next global hoops hotbed (no, China doesn’t count).
All that said, I don’t want Omer—who has had his fair share of injuries in his short and sporadically dominant international career—to risk what he has going in Chicago. Landing an NBA gig is tough enough. Consistently filling a role is a notch up Moh’s hardness scale. Doing it for a playoff team? That’s rarefied air reserved for the Bruce Bowen’s, Luc Longley’s and Gary Neal’s of the world. (Don’t forget your roots, Gary. Europe is thicker than water.) Plus, he has the benefit of playing behind one of the NBA’s best frontcourt combos in Joakim Noah and…Taj Gibson.
His 3 points, 4 boards and nearly a block—0.7 but we round up in ELA country—in 12 minutes per (that’s 8.3, 11.1 and 2.0 per 36 minutes, mind you) aren’t much, but they were plenty to land him in Tom Thibodeau’s good graces and guarantee him a laundered jersey with his name on the back for a good decade or so if he can un-break that fibula, reload the swagger and charge back at full tilt.
I hope he makes it to Lithuania as much as you do, but not if he’s packaged in bandages, braces, and bubble tape.