Enes Kanter, out vs. Wizards in London, continues Turkey criticism with op-ed
The Washington Wizards will face the New York Knicks on Thursday in London’s O2 Arena as part of the annual NBA Global Games series. When game-planning, the Wizards won’t have to account for 6-foot-11 Knicks center Enes Kanter.
Kanter does not have a passport from either his native Turkey or the U.S., but he said even if he had one, he would be too fearful for his life to enter Europe in case the Turkish government tried to assassinate him.
“They’ve got a lot of spies there. I can get killed very easy,” Kanter said earlier this month.
Kanter has expressed criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, which ultimately led to a warrant being issued for his arrest and his father losing his job at a university in the country. His family had to disown him for his anti-Erdogan views.
With the London game approaching this week, Kanter has not tamped down criticism of Erdogan and Turkey. Rather, he’s continued to speak out and most notablywrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, in which he insisted he will not stick to sports.
″‘Keep calm and play ball.’ That’s what some people tell me when I use my National Basketball Association platform to speak out against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, the place I grew up and where my family still lives,” Kanter wrote. “The advice I prefer comes from Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad campaign: ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.’”
On Wednesday, Kanter met with Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, to discuss human rights issues in Turkey:
Today I had the honor of meeting with @Enes_Kanter to discuss human rights abuses in #Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Moved by this young mans bravery in standing up for the rights of his fellow Turkish citizens. pic.twitter.com/FZUZuhI2M6 Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) January 15, 2019
Even on Twitter, where Kanter has more than 417,000 followers (though his account was reportedly banned in Turkey), he’s continued to try to draw attention to his situation:
Turkish Government can NOT present any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing. 🤷♂️I dont even have a parking ticket in the US 😂 (True)I have always been a law-abiding resident. 😇 https://t.co/DxLgvFcTST Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 16, 2019
The only thing I terrorize is the rim 😂 pic.twitter.com/T9mk3bkzKR Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) January 16, 2019
The NBA has played a regular season game every year since 2013, plus two games in 2011. This is the first time the Wizards are playing a regular season contest outside of North America.