He's remembered fondly in Detroit, the big stretch forward/center that came off the bench from 2002-2004 to provide an x-factor advantage from three-point land that was second only to the 2004 acquisition of Rasheed Wallace. The "Turkish Tornado" as long-time Pistons call man George Blaha once referred to him, Mehmet Okur helped the Pistons win an NBA Championship in 2004 before deciding to leave for the expansive mountains and expensive contracts of Utah. Now after 10 years in the league, following a ruptured achilles and two-straight injury riddled seasons, Mehmet Okur's body has decided that it's time for the long gunning giant from Turkey to hang 'em up.
Kevin Pelton of BasketballProspectus.com was able to collect Okur's thoughts on the situation:
"A player of certain level should say goodbye to the sport he loves when his body doesn't let him to be as he used to be," Okur said.
The 'certain level' Okur is referring to is long behind him. WIth the injuries keeping his value drastically lower than the $50-million he earned from the Jazz following the Pistons 2004 Championship, and with no European team willing to match his price tag, Okur must feel a bit slighted in the wake of his decision.
Still, Okur's presence in the game should not be forgotten just yet. Uniquely Mehmet Okur wasn't just a stretch forward, he was a stretch center. Playing next to Andrei Kirilenko in Utah, Mehmet was put at the center spot; a position assignment that puts Okur to the NBA history books.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Mehmet Okur is the third ranking player, 6'11" or taller, for all-time three-pointers made. Okur knocked down 596 baskets from behind the arc, third only to Troy Murphy (603) and Dirk Nowitzki (1275). Murphy and Nowitzki are both stretch forwards and have never been asked to play at center for more than a few possessions. Mehmet Okur's ability to stretch the floor from the center position was unheard of, and should be remembered. Like any good center, Okur could bang on the block and post up around the basket. But more importantly, Okur caused mismatch nightmares for his slower center counterparts by making them drift from the lane and out to the three-point line. Okur brought something to the center position that was rarely seen before he came to the NBA, and it's something that will remain rare in years to come.
He may soon disappear from the memory of the causal NBA fan, if he hasn't already, but for those who had the opportunity to see Mehmet Okur play in Detroit or Utah his skill will not be forgotten.
Tags: Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Mehmet Okur, NBA
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