Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of the Turkish government, revealed that his political stances have made him a pariah amongst fellow Turkish NBA players.
During an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Friday, Kanter spoke at length about the often dangerous and life-threatening persecution he and his family in Turkey have faced due to his public admonishment of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his regime. Kanter’s father was recently freed after seven years in prison over his connection to Enes.
Enes Kanter noted that multiple Turkish NBA players—whom he played with and against growing up—have refused to acknowledge him during NBA games, including Cleveland Cavaliers guard Cedi Osman, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Furkan Korkmaz, and Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“What hurts me the most is other Turkish players in the league,” Kanter told Simmons. “We have Ersan Ilyasova. We have Cedi Osman in Cleveland. We have Furkan Korkmaz in [Philadelphia]. Whenever we go against them, they don’t say a word. I actually try to talk to them. Like, ‘Hey dude, what’s up? How you doing?’ No answer.”
Kanter noted that the cold shoulder he’s receiving from other players may be due to their fears of government persecution if they show support for Kanter.
“I actually cover my mouth with the jersey and just try to talk to them,” Kanter said. “They turn their face the other way.”
In 2017, the Turkish government revoked Enes Kanter’s passport and accused his family of terrorism. His games are censored in his home country and he’s faced arrest threats while traveling abroad.