Turner ready to take on NBA's best

Evan Turner holds his No. 12 jersey with Ed Stefanski, the 76ers' president and GM, who said, "This was the guy we needed."
Evan Turner holds his No. 12 jersey with Ed Stefanski, the 76ers' president and GM, who said, "This was the guy we needed."
Posted: June 26, 2010

Friday was unofficially Evan Turner Day at the Wachovia Center.

The 76ers and about 150 fans welcomed Turner in dramatic fashion during his introductory news conference. Highlights of the former Ohio State standout played on the overhead monitor. Confetti fell, and the crowd chanted "Let's go, Sixers!" as team public-address announcer Matt Cord introduced the 6-foot-7 guard.

Less than 17 hours after the Sixers made Turner the second pick in the NBA draft, he received some brotherly love from Philly.

"Thanks for all of the love," said Turner, whose brothers, Richard and Darius; mother, Iris James; and agent, David Falk, sat in the front row. ". . . I really can't wait to play here. Hopefully, my teammates and I will make you all proud."

After he walked to the podium with 76ers mascot Hip-Hop at his side, Turner joined Sixers general manager Ed Stefanski for a 10-minute news conference. Then Turner raised his white No. 12 Sixers game jersey before throwing a red replica No. 12 jersey and an Evan Turner T-shirt into the crowd.

"To get a player like this is just so fortunate," Stefanski said. "When we went to that draft lottery and we got the second pick of the draft, we were all smiles.

"We did our due diligence. But in the back of our minds, we knew this was the guy we needed."

Turner swept the Wooden, Oscar Robertson, Associated Press, Naismith, and Sporting News awards for player of the year last season. He did that by averaging 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.7 steals.

Turner fills an immediate need at shooting guard. The hope is that he can help the Sixers return to playoff contention after a disheartening 27-55 campaign. And judging by the turnout, fans likely expect him to rekindle the excitement of Allen Iverson's glory days.

For many 21-year-olds, these high expectations would bring unwanted pressure, but not for the soft-spoken player from the west side of Chicago.

"I expect a lot from myself," Turner said. "I know what I expect myself to do, and I don't want to let these people down at the same time.

"There's no pressure at all. This is a great opportunity. I'm looking for positive times."

One of Turner's challenges will come on defense against standout guards such as Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Brandon Roy. He said he looks forward to those opportunities.

"One part about playing in the NBA is that you get to play against the best players in the world," he said.

Turner already is learning what's expected of an NBA rookie. New teammates Spencer Hawes and Andre Iguodala reached out to him after the draft.

Well, sort of.

"Iguodala just told me to live close to a Dunkin' Donuts, because I will have to pick that up for him on game days," Turner said.

After making that purchase, the newest Sixer will head to the arena expecting to win a lot of games. He said his realistic expectations are to play hard, play well, make it to the playoffs, and win a championship.

"If you're not trying to shoot for the stars, there's no point in playing," Turner said.

The Sixers will tell you that an attitude like that, combined with his NBA-ready talent, is why Turner is in Philadelphia.

"I don't think there's going to be a pickup game where Evan Turner doesn't try to beat the other guy and win the game," Stefanski said. "That's what we need. We need a guy like him who has the personality that whatever they are playing, checkers, whatever sport it is, he is going to want to beat you."

Like Stefanski, Sixers fan Mark Wilson was impressed. The South Philadelphia resident attended the Sixers' draft party on Thursday. He returned to the Wachovia Center on Friday to welcome Turner.

"I won't be surprised if the whole place [Wachovia Center] is sold out the first night," said Wilson, who wore a gray "EVANALMIGHTY" Sixers T-shirt at the news conference. "And it's all because of Evan Turner."

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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