Nice find by Maurice at Barstool Philly today. In listening to yesterday’s Basketball Jones Podcast, a show which is part of Bill Simmons’ Grantland Network, Maurice heard co-host J.E. Skeets bring up the possibility that Evan Turner was “bipolar” (14:50 mark). The word is in quotes because it is solely the opinion of Skeets and a former walk-on at Ohio State, Mark Titus, whose new book, Don’t Put Me In, Coach, includes quite a few anecdotes about Turner’s temper.
Titus was in the same class as Turner and didn't have many nice things to say about his former teammate.
This wouldn’t exactly be news if it wasn’t for Stan Hochman’s cryptic report on the WIP Morning Show last week. The longtime Daily News writer told Angelo, Al and Rhea, "There’s an explanation for Turner’s inconsistent play. One of these days, the team, with Turner’s permission, will reveal it. And then the criticism will back off."
The Sixers quickly denied that anything was wrong with Turner, but, well, the seed has been planted.
One passage from Titus’ book: [via Google Books]
"The most prominent of these characters was The Villain (Turner), who I’m not sure can even be adequately described with just words. But words are all I’ve got right now, so I’ll give it a try anyway: The Villain was an insecure, socially feebleminded, possibly bipolar, and often callous perfectionist who had all the talent in the world, who lacked self-confidence and the ability to trust in anybody around him, who was actually one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet when he wanted to be, and who would frequently walk around our locker room with his dick flopped over the waistband of his pants. That really is the best description I can possibly give. It should be noted that in his sophomore season he wasn’t quite as big of a hothead as he was the season before, but he still consistently made things entertaining."
Quite the colorful picture painted by Titus. At the very least, it sounds like Turner’s hot girlfriend is, not surprisingly, often in the presence of greatness slung over an elastic band. So that’s nice.
Titus wrote more, though. This passage about how difficult it was for Ohio State head coach Thad Matta to control Turner. The coach offered Turner incentives to keep his cool for the duration of this 90-minute practice. With 10 minutes remaining, things looked good as the team broke out to shoot free throws:
"I’ve scheduled this practice for an hour and a half. That’s only 90 minutes. Today we’re going to see how long it takes before Evan loses his mind. I’ve got the countdown on my watch and if Evan lasts the entire 90 minutes without a meltdown, the team won’t run today. But if he freaks out, we’ll run a suicide for every minute left on the countdown. So, for example, he loses it an hour into practice, everyone will run 30 suicides. Evan, the entire team’s fate lies in your hands. Don’t let your teammates down."
When I walked over to Evan’s basket, he smacked his lips and said, "What are you doing over here, walk-on?" while in the middle of one of his free throws. (Yes, he called me "walk-on.")
I explained that Coach Matta had asked me to shoot with him and that we were supposed to shoot five free throws at a time before we switched. He seemed cool with this, shot his five free throws, and then stepped off the free throw line to switch spots with me without any trouble. And that’s when, to put it eloquently, shit went down.
Before I go any further with this story, it should be noted that I faced up to 10 suicides if Evan lost his cool, so it’s not as if I was actively trying to piss him off. But as I soon found out, I didn’t have to try with Evan. As we switched spots, I handed him the ball and asked him to toss me a bounce pass once I got lined up, just like a referee would do if I were shooting free throws in a game. But he apparently interpreted this as "roll the ball on the ground before I even get set so it hits my feet, makes me bend over, and completely destroys my rhythm." I picked the ball up and got situated at the free throw line before I gently tossed it back to Evan and again asked him to throw me a bounce pass. This time he fired a chest pass at me.
Now, I admit that I probably should’ve taken the high road at this point and just shot the free throws, but my pride kicked in and wouldn’t let Evan get the best of me, so I threw the ball back and once again asked him to simply throw me a bounce pass. As soon as the ball hit his hands, he rocketed it right back and yelled, "Just shoot the fucking ball!" so loudly that he got the attention of everyone in the gym, including Coach Matta. But instead of blowing his whistle and making us run, Coach decided to sit back and watch everything unfold.
I shot my free throws and switched spots with Evan, who had been standing underneath the basket rebounding for me (and throwing passes back to me as hard as he could). As we walked past each other, Evan called me a bitch under his breath and threw his shoulder at my face, connecting square with my chin. Coach Matta instantly blew his whistle and yelled, "There it is! Everyone on the line!"
And with that, Evan had finally had his meltdown.
With the Sixers, Turner has not always seen eye-to-eye with Collins. One public example of the disconnect came following a win against the Magic in January. After nearly blowing a large lead, the Sixers (and Turner) allowed the Magic back into the game, before finally pulling out the win. CSN cameras caught Collins getting in Turner’s ear as the two walked off the court. Turner, obviously frustrated, threw a towel down the hallway leading to the Sixers locker room. It was a harmless incident, but both parties were asked about it the next day. Collins declined comment.
On Sunday, Turner again chose a towel as his weapon when he somewhat hilariously waved one in Iman Shumpert’s face: [outstanding commentary from YouTube user SuperSkillz11]
OK– that was awesome. But back to the topic at hand…
Hochman, not known to throw shit at walls, issued an apology for his remarks about Turner's problem. In an email obtained by CSN Philly, Hochman wrote:
"I have felt for some time that Turner was taking an unfair beating in the media and I hinted that there was an undisclosed explanation for his inconsistent performances.”
"That was unfair to Turner and to the Sixers organization and I want to apologize to all concerned. Sixty-six games crammed into 123 days takes its toll on everyone. I will not reveal my source, nor the nature of what I was told, but it was wrong to say what I said.”
Still cryptic. But between Hochman’s source, Titus’ stories, and the Turner-Collins issues, you have to wonder if there’s a term more specific than “hothead,” whatever that may be.
On Saturday, Howard Eskin reported, on WIP, that Hochman was told that Turner was on medication for ADD, which Eskin said was untrue.
At the very least, all of this makes a story I was told, by someone who would know, at an event last year – that Turner had seen a sports hypnotist to help him with confidence issues and deal with the pressure of playing in Philly – a bit less inconsequential than I thought it was at the time.
Turner, of course, appears to have turned a corner since Hochman made his remarks on WIP. He has scored 26, 16, and 24 points, respectively, in the three games since.
But, whatever may be eating ET, we can all agree on wondering: Does The Villain still troll around the locker room with his cock hanging over his waistband?