The New York Knicks will take a trip across the pond later this month to take in the Washington Wizards in foggy London towne. One Knick who will not be making the trip, however, is center Enes Kanter. The Turkish big man is a well-known critic of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who responded by revoking Kanter’s Turkish passport. Kanter hasn’t left North America since being detained at a Romanian airport in May 2017.
Kanter did not mince words when talking to reporters about why he would miss the London game. Per Chris Iseman:
“Sadly I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going.
”So I’m just going to stay here, just practice here. 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.”
ESPN profiled Kanter’s recent history with the Turkish government, and Kanter was quick to add a note:
If you’d like to know more about Kanter’s perilous relationship with the Erdogan regime, P&T contributor Robert Silverman wrote a fantastic piece about it in The Daily Beast.
The Knicks play in London on Jan. 17.