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Memo Excited About Playing With Kanter

When the Utah Jazz drafted Enes Kanter with the third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft it meant that for the first time in NBA history two Turkish players would play on the same team. Mehmet Okur who has been a member of the Utah Jazz for seven seasons, and the only Turkish player ever to win a NBA Championship and be an All-Star talked about the selection and other topics.

Memo13: What dou you think about the Jazz drafting counteryman Enes Kanter? What dou you expect from Enes and the Utah Jazz as well as yourself in the upcoming season?

Okur: As you know there are 6 Turkish players presently in the NBA. I feel that Zaza Pachulia is also Turkish as he has Turkish passport and he grew up in the Turkish system as he had been in Turkey since a very young age. If we count Zaza, with Hidayet Turkoğlu (Orlando Magic), myself, Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee Bucks), Omer Asik (Chicago Bulls) and Semih Erden (Cleveland Cavaliers) that makes six Turkish players. Now with the drafting of Enes this will make it seven players. I am very excited that we will be the first Turkish players to ever play on the same NBA team. This will be a major milestone. Since my first days in the NBA, I always hoped that Hidayet and I would play on the same team, and together perhaps win a NBA Championship. It was a dream of mine, and now hopefully we will get there with Enes. We have a very wide big men rotation. I think everyone knows this and everybody will come prepared to do battle in camp. As far as Enes goes, the adjustment he needs to make to the NBA and to Utah in general should be easier because not just myself but my entire  family will be there to help him out. Enes has a home already in Utah and I think he is well beware of that. I finished my ninth season in the NBA and I believe that my experiences will benefit him greatly.

Memo13: I think that the general expectations were for the Jazz to draft a point guard. You have felt for a while that Enes was on the Jazz radar even though you had not seen him play. When you heard that he was drafted by the Jazz were you surprised?

Okur: I can honestly say that I was surprised and also not that surprised. I felt that looking over this draft that there would be a strong chance that he could be drafted first and be teammates with Semih Erden. When he lasted until the third pick I said to myself Salt Lake City here you come. It did not take that long to confirm this feeling. I was not the only one that had not seen Enes play. There were many people that had not watched him play in the last two seasons. He had not played any serious basketball in two years. However the word "potential has so much weight in the NBA, the Jazz felt that he had great potential, a great future. For an organization like the Jazz, things like work ethic, character, behavior, team concept as well blending in with the team, the organization, the fans and the city is so important I think that the general thought was that there would be no problems in these areas and they picked Enes third. This team was built with the vision, the sweat and the efforts of Larry Miller and Jerry Sloan for the last 20 plus years, and so you know these are important virtues. In Salt Lake City you need to be honest, be your self, and if you are friendly, modest, warm and gracious you will be loved here. It is very simple.

Memo13: How is your injury and recovery going. In a recent article with a major Turkish newspaper you said you missed playing basketball so much. Where are you now?

Okur: I have come a long way. I am getting better and better. Working out listening to what the trainers say. No matter how much I miss basketball I know now much better that you can't rush things and hurry back before your body is ready. My gola is to be ready for camp in the best shape I can be. I will go to the USA in July and start concentrating on the upcoming season. I have missed my team mates and my Jazz jersey so much. This year I plan on having the fans watch an excellent Mehmet Okur.
 
Memo13: Did you hear or read where Kevin O'Connor had said that big men in basketball are like the a pitching rotation in baseball. You can never have enough quality pitchers or big men? What do you think about this? Also many people in Turkey are wondering do you see yourself playing along side of Enes in a Jazz uniform? Do you expect a trade prior to the start of the season?

Okur: No I did not hear about that comparison but even if I had, I don't know anything about baseball so I guess it would not have registered up here. As far as our big men rotation Enes and Derrick Favors are 19 or so. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have very different qualities when compared to me. The important thing is to put together a unit that compliments each other and also fills each others weaknesses. I think that my qualities are pretty much known. I played power forward early in my career and have been plaing mostly center since I arrived here in Utah. We have 2-3 big guys who can play both positions. Al Jefferson and Enes can play both positions. To be perfectly honest I get excited thinking about the possibilities with this rotation. As far as trades and othe management moves that is not my job. It is irrevelant what I think. That job belongs to Kevin O'Connor. I know he will have the best team available to be succesfull in Utah. We have been talking about Enes, but please don't frget about Alec Burks. He is a 6'6'' shooting guard. Now if he is a real shooting guard and able to play that position with that size that is a huge difference maker in the NBA.  I am sure that he will have some great input. He is also 19 years old I believe and I have never been on a team where there have been so many key parts who were so young. Gordon Hayward is 21 years old. I can't wait for the season to start with all these young and talented guys.

Memo13: Finally anything you would like to say or add?

Okur: I would like to welcome Enes to Salt Lake City and hope that he has a great career here. Same with Alec. It is not easy being drafted so high. It brings with it a lot of expectations and responsibilities. Enes is the highest drafted Turkish player in our basketball history. It won't be easy with the Turkish media and newspapers following your every step. I know how that feels. Hedo knows how that feels. For long, long years the two of us tried to represent our country, our country's basketball and our people the best way that we could. Now a new generation of Turkish players have arrived with Enes being the youngest amongst them. We hope that they will take the flag from us within time and take it to newer heights. I know for sure that Hedo feels the same way. We did it our way, and the time is near for them to do it their way. We had a great run. NBA Championship, NBA All-Star, Most Improved Player Award, a couple of NBA Finals, a few NBA Conference Finals. We have done our best and although we are not finished yet by any means, we are ready for greater things from the new generation of Turkish NBA players. All I can say to them is "Choose your goals well, work hard and if that is not enough work harder, never be satisfied or fullfilled, and always remember the team comes first.". Once again welcome Enes to Salt Lake City. Our home away from home.



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