NBA (National Basketball Association)

Enes Kanter blames ‘lunatic’ Erdogan as he skips NBA London Game with New York Knicks saying he fears for his life

  • Turkish NBA star says he can’t ‘do my job’ because of ‘one maniac’
  • Erdogan critic believes he could ‘get killed there easy’ if he travels to UK
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 4:57pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 5:09pm

Enes Kanter has said he is skipping the New York Knicks’ trip to London as he fears for his life because of the “freaking lunatic” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Knicks face the Washington Wizards in the NBA London Game 2019 on January 17 at the O2 Arena, but Turkey’s Kanter will stay put in the US.

“Sadly I’m not going, because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president. There’s a chance I can get killed out there,” he told reporters in the locker room after Friday night’s victory against the Lakers at the Staples Centre.

“That’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going, I’m just gonna stay here, just practise here.

“It’s pretty sad that all this stuff affects my career, my basketball, because I want to be out there to help my team win.

“But because of that one lunatic guy, one maniac, one dictator, I cannot go out there and just do my job. So it’s pretty sad.”

Asked if he genuinely thought he could be killed were he to travel to the United Kingdom with his team, the 26-year-old said, “Oh yeah, easy”.

“They’ve got a lot of surprises there,” Kanter added. “I think I could get killed there easy. There could be a very ugly situation.”

Enes Kanter slams ‘scared little rats’ as NBA leaves Erdogan critic off list of best Turkish players

The 2.1-metre tall centre, who began his career with Fenerbahce in Turkey before being picked third in the 2011 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, said that he would not have been able to fly to the UK.

“Besides Canada, I cannot fly anywhere else,” he said.

Kanter had his passport revoked by Turkish authorities and was named a fugitive in his home country in 2017 with an arrest warrant issued because of his support for US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The Knicks star holds a US green card that allows him to permanently live and work in the country.

Last month, Kanter hit out at “scared little rats” after the NBA appeared to omit him from a list of the best Turkish players in the league.

Kanter did feature on a graphic posted on NBA Europe’s Instagram account alongside Cedi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Furkan Korkmaz, despite being considered the best Turkish player in the NBA.

The NBA eventually apologised to Kanter, claiming his omission had simply been an oversight, though Kanter does not feature on the header photo of the official NBA Turkey account on Twitter.