Mehmet Okurâ€™s leg, and his whole world for that matter, came crashing down on April 17, 2010. The Turkish-American center ruptured his Achillesâ€™ tendon during the first game of the National Basketball Association playoffs for his Utah Jazz. That injury not only knocked him out of that series against the Denver Nuggets, but it also sidelined him for the rest of the NBA postseason. In addition, it prevented him from playing in the World Basketball Championships in his native Turkey later in the summer.
Many months, and one surgery later, Okur finally returned to the court for the Jazz on December 17, 2010 and scored 2 points against the New Orleans Hornets. He played a second game after that, but was then hobbled by an ankle injury while missing two more games. He finally returned with confidence this week against the Portland Trailblazers. He played 17 minutes in all, scoring six points on 3-of-6 shooting, with five rebounds. â€œLast time I came back, it was completely different for me, because I didnâ€™t have any confidence,â€ Okur told the Salt Lake Tribune. â€œI didnâ€™t know what to do out there.â€
Prior to this medical setback, Okur was seldom lacking in confidence. After a successful run in Turkish basketball, in which he took Efes Pilson to the Turkish League Championship in 2002, the 6 foot 11 inch Okur was taken with the 38th overall selection of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. And within three years he took his new American team to a championship also, leading the Pistons to the NBA Title in 2004. He thus became the first Turkish basketball player to win an NBA Championship. That would be the first of many firsts for Mehmet.
He parlayed his success with the Pistons to a six year, $50 million contract with the Utah Jazz. He followed that up with a two year contract extension worth $21 million. In the 2005-2006 season, Okur led his team in both scoring and rebounding. And he played in all 82 games, and was the only member of the Jazz to do so. In 2007 he was voted to the NBA All-Star Team, making him the first Turk to qualify for such a distinction. Also, in March of 2009, he set a Utah Jazz team record for three-point-baskets made in one month, with 21. So, as Mehmet Okur works his way back from his injury, he can truly have confidence in his accomplishments on the court thus far.