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Harun Erdenay
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Legendary Players
Harun Erdenay
Conrad McRae
Petar Naumoski
Alp ULAGAY / Hurriyet / 22.01.2006

PEGASUS OF TURKISH BASKETBALL FOR 20 YEARS


Harun Erdenay who is currently the oldest basketball player of TBL is in his late thirties now (37) playing outside of Istanbul for the first time in his 21 year TBL appearance. During his long career one thing did not even changed, his scorer sight. Harun as like the other legendary players showed that he is still in the game by pouring 37 points to Buyuk Kolej and 31 to Tekel this year. Erdenay is named as Pegasus because of his marvelous slow motion lay-ups, smart shoots and outstanding fade-aways which extends the pleasure of the basketball game. Pegasus name is given to him by a well-known basketball lover and journalist Ismet Badem.

Harun Erdenay, besides his sharp shooting abilities and slow motion lay-ups, raised in the hearts of basketball fans with his modesty. Most of the audience just came to see him not the game or the team he is playing in. He is now in the middle of a different journey in Mersin with his wife who is also a basketball player Gergana and with his son Alihan but he is planning to end his career in Mersin this year.

During the years in sixties and seventies, Kemal Erdenay, father of Harun, who is the son of a well-know family was one of the best players of Istanbul Technical University (ITU). His grandmother's daughter is the wife of Sultan the Second Abdulhamid. His grand-uncle Kasim Pasa is the major of the Baghdad (currently the capital of Iraq). His three daughters are born Baghdad. Kemal Erdenay unlike his daughters spends his whole life in Istanbul untill his transaction to Ankara team Sekerspor.

During the Ankara days of Kemal Erdenay a new child joined to his family who was Harun Erdenay. (27 May 1968). Harun's basketball days began soon after his born; he went to watch his father during the unbeaten seasons of ITU in TBL. As a small child he started to play with ball but can not able to find the rim to make a point where 2.14m tall Huseyin Alp helped him to dunk His mother said, while mentioning those days, likewise Huseyin, Kemal always hanged him to the rim.

Uncle's and Father's Encouragement

Harun Erdenay spent most his time with playing his small doll-ball and try to throw it through the wire-rim which his uncle made for him. His daughter Ayten does not forget those days, she said that Harun try to play with the ball but it was so difficult to play in his father suits but he never let the ball fall from his hands.

After a few years it was time to enter the team ITU and Harun goes to the basketball Training school of Technical University in Gumussuyu facility. He learned the main plays in there. Harun's schools days started in Moda elementary school in Kadikoy and he moved to the basketball training school of Efes in Kadikoy but soon after he left there because his father wants him to play in ITU. At the age of 11 he turned back to his home team. Those days were a bit difficult for him because he had to go Gumussuyu. While talking on those days he said that "I had to run most of the times after the school to catch the ferry."

In his junior team he showed that he will become of the best players of Turkish basketball. In those days his coach Ibrahim Halic said him that he will become another Drazen Petrovic of basketball. His mother Meral Erdenay did not even think that Harun will became a basketball player like his father. She said, "I asked to my-self that will Harun be a basketball player, is he as talented as his father. I saw Harun's interest like a childish desire." Besides his talents Harun did not played in junior or U16 Turkish national teams due to his injuries.

In 1985 at the age of 17 he started to play in ITU A team with the big names, Zeki Tosun, Necati Guler and Levent Topsakal. His father was now his team head coach. During 1985-86 season he played only a few minutes but started the next season in starting five and poured 20 points and added 10 rebounds in the first game of the season against Sekerspor and suddenly take the attention of the basketball authorities.

Harun became an unstoppable player especially in fast break games. He scores in a few second after the ball comes to his hands. He jumps more than average and easily passes his opponents. Recep Sen who is one of his team-mates at that days said that, "In eighties, basketball mainly based on offensive plays where Harun is number one name in offensive game and after the age of 20 no one can stop him team trainings."

These abilities help Harun to become the top scorer of 1989-1990 season while Erman Kunter ( who poured 153 points in as single game ), Husnu Cakirgil ( three-point expert ) and Levent Topsakal ( smooth-shooter ) but besides all these success people began to criticized Harun with his lack of defensive play that will never end.

Besides his talents Harun is not as ambitions as people wanted from him. His father tried several times to raise his passion. His uncle Omer Yucesoy said, "When he came to Ankara we played with youths in street ball games and Harun never tried to win, he only played for fun while I go on crazy. Moreover he deliberately misses shots to lose the game."

Harun continues his education while playing basketball. "We were not like today's young players. We attend to whole lessons in high school. I remember one day my father did not played me because of my bad grades." In 1986 Harun started his university career in Bogazici University in Maths but after preparation year he changed his department and started Computer Programming but his sport career do not let him to finish.

His raising success opens the road to the national team. In 1992 during the elimination round to the European basketball championship the poured 67 points in three games and Turkey succeed to enter championship after 12 years.

In 1990 the goes to the team Pasabahce. This the first time he is playing in team that is candidate to the TBL title. During Pasabahce career they won the Turkish Cup title but after the end of that year Pasabahce cuts down the budget and Harun turned back to ITU and raised ITU to the play-offs while he became the TBL leader in points.

He Rejected the NBA Offer

During the 1993 summer in Eurobasket Harun takes the attention of both Spanish team Barcelona and NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland team representatives invited him to the try-outs for the following summer but Harun rejected the offer. He is saying now that the reason behind his decision was in those days it was very difficult to play in NBA for a European player. Several talents did not even have a chance to play in their team for a single minute. As an example Drazen Petrovic who is certainly one of the best talents of European basketball spent a year on bench before he proofed his talents. Likewise the others they told me that I would probably stay on bench for while, this was the end of my NBA journey.

While NBA teams knocking the door of Harun Erdenay that year team Fenerbahce decided to add Harun to their new born dream team roster and they thought the team which wants to play for the TBL title needs Erdenay. That year Fenerbahce could not achieve the championship but dominated the league. Most remarkable game at that season was the game in Korac Cup against Greece team Panainaos. He scored 44 points and after the final whistle Panionios team coach Yannakis congratulated him.

During the early nineties Harun's reputation reached its peak, now everyone ask for his autograph or a picture. Moreover Woman fans are following him everywhere but Harun was not paying much attention to them and choosed to spent time with his family. He usually went out with his daughter Deniz. He is mainly interested in sports car and dogs not the night life of Istanbul.

By the end of year 93 Ulkerspor offered him a double salary than he earned from Fenerbahce though he decided to move to Ulker. That year some other legendary players of Turkish basketball such as Serdar Apaydin, Orhun Ene, Haluk Yildirim accompanied him and came to Ulker. This front-court of Ulker dominated the whole season in 1994 and team Ulker achieved the TBL title while ironically meeting with Harun's former team Fenerbahce in finals, this was Harun's first championship in TBL.

During his career in Ulkerspor Harun achieved TBL title two more times after that season in 1998 and 2001. This was not the only success of him; Harun also raised one Turkish Cup and three Presidential Cup. Although the victorious days in TBL Ulkerspor did not achieve the same triumphs in European cups.

Play of the Day

One of the remarkable performances of him came in year 1997 against Barcelona In the ninth of October Ulkerspor was two point behind Barca while 5 seconds left for the final whistle. His coach Murat Didin took a time-out and simply said him; Harun take the ball and finish it. Harun take the ball and throw it from the half-court line and ball finds its way to rim. This play later announced in CNN international as the play of the day. In late nineties he was know as Pegasus the nickname which was given by Ismet Badem.

His career achieved one its peaks in year 2001 while Turkish National team reached the Eurobasket 2001 finals. He had to play point guard in three games while team point-guard Orhun Ene failed to play as a result of injury. Harun latterly said that we have the chance to win against former Yugoslavia in final but they were so tough and referees showed them hospitality.

Another Points Per Game Leading at the Age of 37

Following this tough days Harun thought that its time to quit the national team and after the year 2002 in world cup Harun announced his retirement from national team and one year later he also leaved Ulker. He said; "I was not the age to play 2 games in a week. Now and it is time to back to home team ITU." He returned him home and rescued ITU from falling to TB2L division. His old team-mate Recep Sen was his coach in ITU now. In ITU he again showed how big man he is played as like a young star with averages of 21.4 points per game and placed the top seat in leadership in TBL at the age of 37.

Last summer while he was thinking of a retirement form active basketball play new comers of TBL Mersin BSB offered him a contract and to his wife. He decided to play one more year with his wife in Mersin. His young coach Rebah Sidali said we wanted him to play one more year but Harun thinks that before the age of 38 a retirement necessary. Harun currently leaving in Mersin with his wife and 2 year-old son Alihan. He said that I am not going to leave basketball but do not want to become a coach at the moment. We will see in the future not flying man but an enthusiastic manager shouting on the bench from now on.

His Successes

1995, 1998 and 2001 TBL championship
1995, 2001 and 2002 President's Cup
1992 and 2003 Turkish Cup
1990, 1993 and 2005 TBL points per game leader
2001 Eurobasket silver medal

Translated by Okan KARATAY

http://hurarsiv.hurriyet.com.tr/goster/haber.aspx?id=3825194&tarih=2006-01-22


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