Ronny Turiaf, the West Coast Conference player of the year at Gonzaga and a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, has an enlarged heart and will need open-heart surgery, possibly ending his career before it ever starts in the NBA.
Turiaf’s agent, Bouna Ndiaye, confirmed to ESPN.com Thursday night that the condition was discovered during extensive medical testing in Los Angeles.
Lakers spokesperson John Black said Turiaf would have open-heart surgery in 4-6 weeks. Black said Turiaf would meet with the media at 10 a.m. PT Friday in Los Angeles.
The Lakers selected the 6-foot-10 Turiaf, who was originally from France, with the 37th pick overall in the June 28th draft. Los Angeles signed Turiaf to a two-year guaranteed contract on July 14. He played for the Lakers in a Summer Pro League and was averaging 14 points and 4.7 rebounds in 21.9 minutes a game. But Turiaf, 22, was held out of the final four games of the summer league.
Ndiaye said Turiaf would remain in Los Angeles to meet with more doctors Friday before determining when and where to have surgery.
“His aorta is too large for his heart,” Ndiaye said. “This is open-heart surgery. He could come back if everything goes OK and he works hard.”
Ndiaye said the contract would be voided but Lakers owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak would “take care of the medical costs and told us they would keep his rights.”
“They are showing us the good human part,” Ndiaye said. “Ronny is down. He’s a winner and he’s determined to get back one day.”
Black said the contract Turiaf signed was conditional on passing the physical and once he didn’t the contract becomes void. But Black said the league lawyers might not agree with that interpretation. Black said the Lakers want to pay the medical costs, but once again this is up to the league’s interpretation of his contract.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who spoke with Turiaf on Thursday night, said Turiaf was in the best condition he had seen him in when he visited Turiaf at the Chicago predraft camp in June.
“We’re in a state of shock,” Few said. “We’re going to be by Ronny’s side during this entire ordeal. Our staff, our players and the entire community of Spokane are behind him. He’s meant so much to all of us. We’re going to see him through this and get him back healthy. There will be a lot of thoughts and prayers coming out of Spokane.”
Nie jestem sobie nawet w stanie wyobrazić co musi czuć Ronny od kiedy się o tym dowiedział, młody chłopak dostał właśnie swoją szansę w NBA przecież to widać, jak bardzo on kocha tą grę, zawsze daje z siebie wszystko a tutaj taki cios.