Postgame interviews can be even more legendary than the preceding games themselves.
Case in point, a rather impressive 2010 comeback victory by a mediocre Toronto Raptors squad, completely overshadowed more than a decade later by a hilariously abrupt postgame interview with one of the team’s then-stars.
Retired small forward and current President of the Turkish Basketball Federation, Hedo Türkoğlu, never really made much of an impact during his brief tenure with the Raptors in the 2009-10 NBA season.
But his time in Toronto is perhaps best remembered for the time he noped out of an interview in hilarious fashion, becoming an instant meme with a single-word response that lives on as a local sports punchline to this day.
It was January 28, 2010. Avatar was the hottest movie at the box office, and the Toronto Raptors were playing the New York Knicks in the legendary Madison Square Garden. Toronto managed to stage an epic comeback, taking down the Knicks 106-104.
Raptors sportscaster Jack Armstrong caught up with Türkoğlu after a dominant performance registering a double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds at a scorching 50 per cent shooting average from the field in 34 minutes on the court.
Moments later, Toronto sports history was made.
“Great effort tonight for you and your team what was crucial down the stretch for coming back in this game?” asked Armstrong.
Hedo responds with a pretty boilerplate answer, offering a monotone explanation of “execution, we just read the situation and move the ball, make extra pass, and redo matchups and find a guy who can really attack and finish the deal.”
Armstrong, just trying to do his job, pressed Türkoğlu for more, asking, “You came out tonight early, aggressive. What was different for you tonight in terms of just setting the tone with your game in this game?”
The response was as legendary as it gets, a simple, frustrated, just-let-me-go-home-already, “Ball.”
After an unbelievably long pause where one can imagine a lot was being said by producers through the earpiece, Armstrong did his best to recover, saying, “the ball, in your hands, and you did a lot with it.”
But Hedo made it clear that he had no interest in participating in the postgame interview, shrugging and telling Armstrong, “I’ve got nothing else to say.”
It sure looked like a brutally awkward moment for Armstrong, but he later explained to the National Post that it was actually “one of the funnier moments in my career.”
Armstrong told the outlet that “he was really ticked off about his role at the time with the Raptors, and I happened to be caught in the middle of that. It was one of those ‘huminah, huminah, huminah’ moments. You’re on live TV and everyone had a lot of laughs with it. And I was the punch line.”
The Raptors forward would apologize to Armstrong the following day, but only four months later, he would tell a Turkish reporter that he wanted out of Toronto. That wish was granted in July 2010 when Hedo was dealt to the Phoenix Suns.
His time in Toronto was brief, but a dozen years later, “ball” is still a lasting punch line among long-time Raptors fans.