Enes Kanter’s freedom to travel, speak with his family and procure endorsements have all been negatively affected by his feud with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But never his ability to play in the NBA. Until later this month.
Expressing fear he might be murdered by Turkish spies, Kanter said he will not travel with the Knicks to London for their regular season game against the Bucks on Jan. 17th. A wanted criminal in Turkey for speaking out against Erdogan’s heavy-handed reign, Kanter also had his passport revoked and cannot fly to Europe.
Kanter came to his decision sometime before Friday night’s contest with the Los Angeles Lakers. After the game, he spilled the beans with the media at his beck and call.
“It’s pretty sad that just all this stuff affects my career and basketball because I want to be out there helping my team win. But just because of that one lunatic guy, one maniac or dictator, I can’t even go out there and just do my job. So it’s pretty sad,” Kanter told the media, who were no doubt shocked to hear how drastic the situation with Erdogan had become.
Kanter has been a supporter of Gulen, an opponent of Erdogan who has been living in exile in the United States since 1999. Gulen was accused of orchestrating a failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016, but he denies any involvement.
Kanter’s father is also wanted in Turkey for “membership in a terror group.”
It’s really sad how an NBA player can’t even do his job, even travel in fear of being killed because of political differences.