Knicks’ Enes Kanter saddened by missing London game vs. Wizards
The New York Knicks played in the NBA’s London game in the O2 Area today, facing off against the Washington Wizards. The Knicks made the trip, though, without one of their key players: Enes Kanter. Afraid to leave the United States due to the possibility of being arrested, or even killed, by the Turkish government, Kanter opted not to make the journey to London with his team.
During an interview today with CNN, Kanter told Brooke Baldwin, “my heart hurts when I talk about this issue because until the London game, I have not missed a single game.”
There has been an ongoing issue between Enes Kanter and the government of Turkey- specifically the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan. Recently, it has only gotten worse. A couple of weeks ago, Kanter told reporters after the Knicks’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers that he planned to not travel with the team, with the decision stemming from the potential danger. He noted London’s high volume of Turkish spies, and explicitly stated, “there’s a chance I can get killed out there”.
Hedo Turkoglu, former NBA player and current adviser to Erdogan, spoke out against Kanter’s criticisms and claims regarding the leader. He insisted Kanter was conducting a “political smear campaign”. Just yesterday, the Turkish government sought the extradition of Enes Kanter on charges of his membership within an armed terrorist group. The Turkish government’s treatment and harassment of Kanter is nothing new. In the past, they have put out an arrest warrant for him, canceled his passport, and even sentenced his father to a 15-year in prison.
Enes Kanter absolutely would have liked to have been able to travel with his team, and they assuredly missed him. Averaging 14.4 points and 11 rebounds this season, his presence would have been impactful for the Knicks, who lost to the Wizards 101-100.