Furkan Korkmaz

Sixers' Furkan Korkmaz reacts to all the nicknames, explains the motto that inspired a shirt

Sixers' Furkan Korkmaz reacts to all the nicknames, explains the motto that inspired a shirt

Last February, Furkan Korkmaz was lying in a hospital bed after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He posed for an Instagram photo, gave a thumbs up and told his followers, “I’ll be stronger when I get back!”

Korkmaz has certainly delivered on that promise. He’d said at his exit interview last May, “I don’t know where I’m going to end up,” but it didn’t seem likely that it would be Philadelphia after the Sixers’ decision to decline his third-year option. Yet Korkmaz was one of he team’s best stories in the 2019-20 campaign before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the NBA season. His 126 made three-pointers are most on the Sixers, and he’s shooting 39.7 percent from long range (45.3 percent at Wells Fargo Center). 

You’ll notice the shirt Korkmaz is wearing in the photo from February reads “Every Single Day.”

It’s a customized shirt, and he explained the meaning behind the motto in an interview Tuesday with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters. 

When I was 15 [years old] or 14, there were some camps of Michael Jordan in Europe," Korkmaz said. "It was in Barcelona, I believe, or Madrid. I went to one of his camps — there were three players from Turkey who attended the camp. And they gave us some T-shirts, some shorts. And I saw this [phrase] ‘Every Single Day’ on a T-shirt. I was like, what does this mean?

"Then I started to search — what does it really mean? First, I understood it like you’re alone every day. So, there is nobody around me — at the end of the day when you go to bed, you’re alone, by yourself. And then I start to understand — these are all my comments — that every day is [singular]. Tomorrow is not going to be today, today is not going to be tomorrow. … I started to feel like that’s my life. I started to live like that. 

The 22-year-old Korkmaz seems to combine infinite confidence with a sincere appreciation that his profession is essentially to put a ball through a hoop. That, along with his scoring bursts this season, has been endearing to teammates and fans. It’s also inspired quite a few nicknames. 

Does Korkmaz have a favorite? 

“I love all of them,” he said, “like Furky from Turkey with the jerky. I also like Goatmaz, you know. … Goatmaz is nice. Furky, I was using it for a long time. … Probably until the season is over I’m going to have a couple more nicknames, and then we’ll talk about it later, too.” 

You can watch the video above for more of Thybulle’s interview with Winters, including plenty of discussion about the distinct style and fashion he's showcased on his Instagram account. 

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Furkan Korkmaz relives Instagram fashion hits and misses

Furkan Korkmaz relives Instagram fashion hits and misses

It’s easy to love Furkan Korkmaz’s story. The Istanbul, Turkey, native was largely unknown to Sixers fans when the team drafted him 26th overall in 2016 when he was just 18 years old. Although there were glimpses of what he could be (the first being when he dropped 40 points in a Summer League game), virtually no one, including Korkmaz himself, thought he’d be back for another season, let alone become the Sixers official "bomber," leading the team in made three-pointers.

But even more than all of that, it’s been Korkmaz’s refreshing personality and hilarious sense of humor (sometimes coupled with his learning of slang in the English language —  please see his "Make it rain" postgame interview) that has endeared him to Sixers fans.

And while we sit here amid a suspended NBA season, largely isolated, Korkmaz provided us with the entertainment we’ve very much been missing.

We combed through old Instagram photos with Kork, AKA GOAT-maz (thank you, Ben Simmons), AKA Furky from Turkey wit da Jerky (thank you, Mike Scott).

From that one time he wore white pants and a tie dye jacket to his "definitely feeling himself" outfits, Korkmaz gave us all the laughs in an interview Tuesday, as you can see in the video above. 

Plus, we got the skinny on his on-court shoe choices, dinners with Dario Saric and why he thinks Brett Brown would be as good as Matisse Thybulle on Tik Tok, and we are here for all of it!

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Picking Sixers' team MVP, 6th Man of the Year and Most Improved Player

Picking Sixers' team MVP, 6th Man of the Year and Most Improved Player

We typically would be thinking much more about playoff matchups than the NBA's season awards in mid-April, but the 2019-20 season hasn’t been typical, to put it mildly.

With basketball now suspended for over a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ll do a Sixers-only edition of the league’s annual awards.

MVP: Joel Embiid 

Embiid is the most efficient post-up player in the NBA. He’s averaging 1.12 points per possession on post-ups, the best in the league (minimum 50 post-ups). Embiid also has 49 more post-up possessions than any player, despite having played in only 44 games.

Since Embiid’s availability has again been limited for a variety of reasons — suspension, load management, a gruesome hand injury, a sprained shoulder — there’s a case to be made that he simply hasn’t played enough to merit the team’s MVP award. There have been other concerns with Embiid, too, including his public soul-searching about questions like how to best approach the regular season and how much he should value being mature.

We have Embiid beating out Ben Simmons because it is so clear how vital he is to the Sixers. The team is 11-10 without him, and it has a 101.4 defensive rating when he’s on the floor (better than the NBA-best Bucks’) and 109.4 defensive rating when he’s off it, which would rank 15th. He’s third in defensive win shares per game (minimum 30 games played). 

Throughout his NBA career, whether or not Embiid is on the court has been the top predictor of the Sixers’ success.

Rookie of the Year: Matisse Thybulle 

This one isn’t a difficult choice. Thybulle leads all rookies in steals and was poised to have a key role in the playoffs. 

Sixth Man of the Year: Furkan Korkmaz 

We give Korkmaz the smallest of edges over Thybulle. Considering the circumstances with Korkmaz entering the year, when his NBA career was apparently at a precipice, it’s an unlikely pick.

Out of all players that have taken at least 100 home threes, Korkmaz has the fourth-best shooting mark at 45.3 percent. Like with Thybulle, his outside shooting percentage is much worse on the road, but Korkmaz’s shotmaking at Wells Fargo Center has sometimes been sensational. He’s shown himself to be a player who can accumulate points in bunches when he’s surging with confidence and has rhythm. 

Thybulle seems a better bet to contribute positively in the playoffs because of his defense, but Korkmaz, who's appeared in every game but one, earns this regular-season award. 

Most Improved Player: Furkan Korkmaz

We’ll double up on Korkmaz, who was a 32.3 percent NBA three-point shooter heading into 2019-20. 

Shake Milton misses out here because he’s played in half as many NBA games as Korkmaz this year, and his improvement appears slightly more attributable to increased opportunity than Korkmaz’s. The Turkish wing got into better shape over the summer, performed well for his country in the FIBA World Cup and carried over his offseason work effectively. 

Defensive Player of the Year: Ben Simmons

As Paul Hudrick wrote, Simmons should be in the running for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The physical talent has always been there, but Simmons’ night-to-night commitment has been much improved.  

He leads the league in steals, yes, but Simmons has also consistently stymied opposing stars of diverse sizes and styles. 

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