The Evster: the sad, sad, sad truth behind Evan Turner's sad story

The Evster: the sad, sad, sad truth behind Evan Turner's sad story

I feel bad for Evan Turner.

I know, I know, that's ridiculous. The guy is a multi-millionaire who plays basketball for a living. He's tall. Well-built. And has over 160,000 Twitter followers. As far as I can tell, he has no visible moles on his back, and very few stray hairs sprouting out of his nips. He also has a girlfriend (and dog) who looks like this...

OH DAT MIDRIFF

... but I still feel bad for him.

Ev's having a rough time these days. During the Eastern Conference Finals, he's been stuck on the Pacers' bench, earning a DNP: Coach's Decision in four out of the first five games. When Evan does play (four minutes in Game 3), he seems to do so with his testicles firmly implanted in his own anus, a strategy unseen since the great Keith Van Horn slung 'em up for the 2002 Washington Mystics.

Fans and media all over the country have been yucking it up at ET's expense. On the cusp of free agency, Ev is struggling to prove he's any more valuable than the teammates he's fighting for playing time with: perennial journeymen Rasual Butler (Christian Street Y represent reprezent-zent) and C.J. Watson (not good at basketball). As of now, it seems like the Sixers might've gotten the better end of their deal with Indiana, flipping Turner (and a guy whose Twitter handle is @chefVOYardee) for a 2nd round pick, and a man who refused to play basketball for their team.

Is Turner really this bad? I mean, we knew he wasn't GREAT -- as evidenced by his far too common 2 for 15 shooting nights -- but was he always THIS terrible? The short answer is yes. He's always been worthless. But he was also sort of dope for like five minutes. Not dope. That's not the right word. But "not horrible"? Is that closer? I mean, yeah, sometimes he'd shoot the ball directly off the backboard, but he'd also sometimes rebound his own miss, and then put the ball back up, get his shot blocked by around three different guys, then throw up his hands at the ref and complain... but then he'd go coast-to-coast on the next play and ram over BronBron! WHAT IS THIS GUY'S DEAL? How could Evan have gone from a potential all-star (dude was averaging 17 and 6 when we traded him) to Michael Beasley 2.0? Is he just a total bozo? And can you really feel sorry for a bozo?

I have no idea.

I honestly have no clue. To this day, after 37 years on this earth, I do not know what any of the rules of this world are. I'm just a lowly blogger who needed an idea for this week's post and literally just dropped half a tuna salad sandwich on his keyboard while he was trying to write. But Evan Turner is a total enigma. And there is seriously tuna everywhere. While I clean this up, it's important to realize that in order to truly understand ET, you have to take a long, cold, hard look into his dark past.

Pretty sure he's wearing wrapping paper here.

According to Wikipedia, when Evan was a baby, he came down with chicken pox, pneumonia, asthma and measles DURING HIS FIRST YEAR ON EARTH. This led to the little fella developing severe breathing problems that required the removal of his adenoids and tonsils. Yeah, I know, adenoids aren't a thing. And yet Evan had to have them removed. Baby Evan Turner had something sliced out of his throat that doesn't even exist. Not the best way to start off life. Unfortunately, it only got worse.

At the age of three, Evan got hit by a car. BY. A. CAR. That means that as he was just starting to legitimately walk, he got nailed by a MOVING MOTOR VEHICLE. Can you imagine seeing a Volvo smash into a three-year-old? Last week I accidentally backpedalled over my nephew's foot and now my sister-in-law refuses to talk to me. Not because of that, because of something completely unrelated (I stole $20 out of her purse... for drugs), but still, her kid needs to RE-LAX. Evan ended up with a concussion and needing stitches after his accident. Later, he developed oversized teeth which caused a speech impediment. No wonder the dude can't get along with his teammates.

For the record, there is nothing sadder -- or harder for a child to overcome -- than a speech impediment. (And that includes weirdos who are born without feet!) I grew up with a kid who was super, super nice, but he also had a lisp, and had ZERO friends. That kid was me. No, no, no it wasn't, but it woulda tied up those last few sentences nicely. That's how horrible lisps are. Even in a stupid weekly column on this measly blog, I can't bring myself to even PRETEND that I had a lisp. I bet The Villain got teased mercilessly growing up. Which had a big-time effect on a his social development. Trust me, I know, because (and you're not gonna believe this), I too was teased as a kid. I was born with a rare congenital birth defect called H.P.S. (Humongo Penis Syndrome), a condition that has plagued me my entire life. It's horrible. Follow me on Instagram, ladies. Username: KikiVandewegheJr

As Evan got older, he found basketball, and a sense of purpose. No longer just the sickly kid with a lisp, he was now the sickly kid with a lisp who could also put a dumb orange ball into a hoop. But in Oak Park, Illinois, Evan's hometown, being great at something isn't really good enough. The town is full of greatness. The upper-middle class suburb may be best known for Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture (I took a guided walking tour there with my wife! and yes it was very lovely thank you very much!), but it has also churned out loads of BIG TIME celebs. Notable Oak Park natives include: Ernest Hemingway (and his beard), Dan Castellaneta (aka Homer Simps), LIEUTENANT DANGLE (from Reno 911), Bob Newhart (not dead!), Betty White (also not dead), Corey Maggette (such a good free throw shooter), Iman Shumpert (possibly has never made a free throw), HANNAH STORM (first woman to get hotter during menopause) and wait for it...

wait for it...

JUDY TENUTA!

[nbcsports_video src=//www.youtube.com/embed/j8YTXQgYaX8 width=620 height=465]

My buddy Barklev thinks that no one knows who Judy Tenuta is. I disagree. So for the three of you out there reading this who actually know who Judy Tenoots is, how 'bout Judy Tenoots!!!

I'm not quite sure why any of this matters, but it seemed worth bringing up. Growing up surrounded by such greatness -- TENUTA -- and expectations, can put a lot of pressure on a young kid.

It got even tougher for Evan as a teenager, as he chose to play ball for the biggest dicknose in the city, Coach Gene Pingatore of Saint Joseph's High School. You may remember Pingatore from Hoop Dreams. He was the dicknose supreme who booted Arthur Agee out of school and chided William Gates for his entire career, constantly comparing him to his prized former star, Isiah "Also a Dicknose" Thomas. Pingatore rules with an iron fist (and a flacid dick of a nose). There's no way Evan's years at St. Joe's could've possibly helped him grow as a human being. AND THAT'S SAD FOR HIM.

Sidenote: While I was reading up on Captain Dicknose, I found out that William Gates's son, William Jr. (aka Spoodie) currently plays basketball at Furman College in South Carolina. Spoodie got a late start playing hoops (he first attended basketball camp the summer before 8th grade) and enrolled in St. Joe's the following year. There, he played JV as a freshman, but struggled to adjust to the school, the team, and the expectations, and eventually decided to transfer back to public school. Eventually, the Gates family moved to Texas where Spoodie spent his senior year and became a stand-out player. The moral of this story: Pingatore is still a d-nose.

Also, they call William Gates's son, Spoodie!

I'd love to get back to Evan Turner, but one more thing about Deputy Dicknose: Is it me or does he sort of look exactly like that old dude from Up?

Maybe not!

BACK TO THE POINT OF THIS WHOLE ARTICLE: EVAN TURNER'S GIRLFRIEND.

MAMA MIA.

WHAT A WOMAN.

REALLY SMOOTH ARMS.

In college, it didn't get any easier for Ev. Even while he was taking his game to the next level, he struggled to make friends on the team. Turner's former teammate at Ohio State, Mark Titus, now a writer at Grantland, wrote a book about his college career and described Turner as “weird” and “the epitome of a guy who couldn’t take a joke.” Titus also wrote that Turner was “insecure, socially feebleminded, possibly bipolar... and actually one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet when he wanted to be.”

As a pro, Evan has been constantly judged by his draft position -- #2 overall -- right behind quite possibly the best point guard who has ever played the game. That's totally unfair to Turner. No one compares to John Wall. The Wizards' stud is the most electrifying player in basketball history who is not named Sue Bird. And yet this is what Evvy must deal with. Eight picks after the Sixers took ET, the Pacers took Paul George -- THANKS, ED STEFANSKI -- who now flaunts his chiseled naked body and improving jump shot in Evan's face every day. Not lost in all this, is the fact that there is a real live human person out there named PAUL GEORGE.

Outside of Ev's time in Philly, and his current dark period in Indy, the poor guy hasn't even been able to land a decent shoe deal. ONCE AGAIN, SAD. What's the point of being an NBA player if you don't have sweet kicks? Turner is currently sponsored by the Chinese sporting goods company, Li Ning, the same company who sponsors Hasheem Thabeet and Zheng Bo.

BLAMMO!

These are Evan's sneaks:

WHY ARE THEY IN THE GRASS?!

I dunno, man. Seems to me like the guy deserves a break. I know, I know, life is hard for everyone. And Evan at least has his health. I'm not saying you have to like Evan Turnski, but you gotta feel for him a littttttttle bit. Cheerleading from the bench. Fighting with teammates in practice. Watching his stock drop lower and lower every damn day, to the point where he'll probably end up taking a one-year deal from Milwaukee this summer for a measly $4.8 milly.

It doesn't seem like that much fun to be The Villain.

Then again...

Thanks, Stefanski.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

Leila Rahimi discusses her ups and downs as a sports anchor

Leila Rahimi discusses her ups and downs as a sports anchor

Q: What experience had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?
A: This is going to sound like an odd answer, but surviving various challenges in our business. I’ve gone through everything from having to get a police escort to shoot video when I was a news reporter, only to be suspended from being on air because acquiring the escort made me late for a 5 p.m. deadline on a 10 p.m. show. That supervisor who made the decision was also sued for gender discrimination by a previous employee. In another market I dealt with a mass layoff after we’d have to hear about what happened in court proceedings regarding our station on Twitter. Then there was the simple, but not easy, task of shooting video every day with a 35-pound camera and 18-pound tripod for 7 years in several different markets. 

Q: Who’s had the biggest impact and why?  
A: The person who has the biggest impact on your career in this business… is yourself.

Q: What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?
A: When I was a “one-man-band,” where you shoot video, edit and report it, and I carried the gear around, I’d get a lot of “that camera is bigger than you are” discussion. I’d just laugh it off. I’ve had a guy accuse me of using my looks to get hired at a radio station because they didn’t get the NASCAR results fast enough (this is when we’d get updates from a wire service faster than the internet would refresh them). That made me laugh. 

Q: What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got you fired up or perhaps made you think about quitting.
A: Various moments will make you question your employment in TV. You just have to keep going. 

Q: Have you had any teachable moments? I.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended — until you said something?
A: Sadly I don’t have much of a filter, so when someone makes a comment and I get upset about it, they know pretty quickly. I’m the one who should probably look into that more on my end than the other way around.

Q: Any awkward moments?   
A: I’ve had people ask about my dating availability. I say I don’t want to lose my job. That makes it pretty self-explanatory. What frustrates me is when I’d be having a perfectly normal conversation with an athlete (aka, a coworker) and if I was talking to that person “too long,” I’d worry that someone would think something wasn’t right with the situation, that it would look suspicious. When in reality, we were probably talking about Target or something very basic like that, or someone was teaching me something about the sport they play, or there was a play during a game they wanted to describe, etc. Simply because I’m a woman and the athlete is a man, it could “look bad.” 

Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Again, I’d say surviving. This business is hard on relationships, personal lives, self-esteem, you name it.

Q: A lot of girls look up to you and aspire to be on TV covering sports. What is the most important message you want to send to them?
A: The obsession with looks in our business has really increased since I started out. That may sound weird given that it’s TV, but I’ve been told I won’t get a lot of jobs because I’m not blonde. It’s true. I didn’t get some chances because I didn’t have a certain look. But don’t get discouraged. Don’t go changing because someone else wants you to. Do you, and know that the biggest asset is always knowledge. If you want to be taken seriously, read and watch as much sports as possible. That’s how you stay employed.

Looming free agent Manny Machado puts Maikel Franco on the clock

Looming free agent Manny Machado puts Maikel Franco on the clock

CLEARWATER, Fla. – You hear it a lot at this time of year.

This is a big year for (fill in the name).

The 2017 season will be a big one for a lot of Phillies. This team remains an active construction site building for a better day, and the front office is sitting upstairs making a list of who fits into the future and who doesn’t.

So it’s a big year for Freddy Galvis to see if he can improve his on-base skills and hold off J.P. Crawford.

It’s a big year for Cesar Hernandez to see if his strong second half in 2016 was a young player really getting it, a sign of good things to come, or just a three-month hot streak.

It’s a big year for Tommy Joseph as he tries to build on a nice big-league debut and hold off hard-charging Rhys Hoskins.

But when it comes to establishing oneself as a long-term part of this team’s foundation, Maikel Franco might have the biggest challenge of all among Phillies position players.

Yes, Franco belted 25 homers and drove in 88 runs last year, and those were surely impressive totals for a player of his age (23) hitting in a lineup where he was a marked man with little protection on a team that did not put many runners on base — that .301 team on-base percentage ranked 29th in the majors.

Despite huge upside, Franco’s game has some shortcomings. He is a free-swinger with poor on-base skills — he had a .306 on-base percentage last season and saw just 3.56 pitches per at-bat, ranking him 134th in the majors — and if you’ve been paying attention to what has come out of general manager Matt Klentak’s mouth in his 16 months on the job, you know that he values players who “control the strike zone” — both at the plate and on the mound.

Klentak and his lieutenants in the front office also place a premium on defense and Franco, despite good hands and a rocket arm, does not grade out near the top among major league third basemen, mostly because of his range, in advanced metrics. He ranked 12th out of 18 qualifying third basemen in runs saved (minus 6) last season.

Proof of this front office’s affinity for on-base skills and defensive acumen can be seen in center field and in that $30.5 million bulge in Odubel Herrera’s wallet. Herrera got on base more than 35 percent of the time his first two seasons in the majors and he grades out well in the advanced defensive metrics used by this team’s decision makers. All of this, along with his youth — he’s 25 — and projected upside led the front office to give Herrera a five-year contract extension this winter. Call it a statement of the type of player that this front office is looking for.

Franco can improve his flaws, particularly at the plate. He’s already hard at work trying to do so with new hitting coach Matt Stairs.

But why is it so pressing that he does? Why is this year such a big one for Franco?

Because he is entering his third season as a regular and the front office probably needs to know that the improvement is coming. Even as they construct their roster and prepare for the 2017 season here in spring training, this front office has its telescope out and is peering at future free-agent markets. Club president Andy MacPhail basically said that last week. In 2017, Maikel Franco has to convince this front office not to put Manny Machado in its sights. The superstar Baltimore Orioles third baseman will hit the free agent market after the 2018 season at the tender age of 26 and if you think his projected megadeal will be too rich for the Phillies then think again. Owner John Middleton has promised to spend big again when the team is ready to win.

In December at the winter meetings, Klentak was asked about some of the astronomical numbers being attached to the talent-rich free-agent class that is coming after the 2018 season. Could he see the Phils paying a player $200 million, $300 million, $400 million?

“I won’t put a dollar figure on anything,” Klentak said that day. “Markets develop the way that they develop and player values change over time. But I don’t have any doubt that this franchise will make significant investments when the time is right.”

Investing in a player like Machado could make long-term sense for the Phillies because he has the type of rangy body that often holds up past 35 and he could take his bat to first base when he’s older and done at third. Yes, it would take a long-term deal, probably at least seven years, to get Machado.

Franco can throw cold water on this admittedly premature postulating by making improvements at the plate this season.

If he doesn’t show enough improvement or make the front office believe that it will eventually come, he could be a trade candidate and the Phillies could plug at third while they wait to make their run at Machado.

Franco knows his shortcomings and is working on them.

You could see it in batting practice Monday as he consciously tried to drive balls to right-center.

You could see it Friday as he stood in the outfield and talked hitting with new teammate Howie Kendrick. Kendrick mimicked a hitter driving the ball up the middle. Franco then did the same thing and nodded.

“I love to hit and sometimes I get excited,” Franco said. “I am concentrating on being more selective and using the middle of the field, not trying to do too much.”

Stairs has assigned Franco and Galvis to the same batting practice group as Kendrick.

“Howie has that gap-to-gap approach and I want Maikel and Freddy to see that every day,” Stairs said.

Stairs is convinced that if Franco stays with the approach he will “give away” fewer at-bats and become a tougher out in 2017 “and then you will see the on-base numbers come up.”

Franco needs to make these improvements if he’s going to have a long-range future with a team that is building through the concept of controlling the strike zone.

It’s a big year for him.

And the looming shadow of the ‘man’ in Baltimore makes it all that much bigger and intriguing.