The Knicks play the Wizards in London on January 17th in a game that’s probably not going to do much to convert overseas fans to the sport. Knicks center Enes Kanter, though, won’t be making the trip for a very good reason: the president of Turkey wants him dead.
“Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said after the Knicks’ 119-112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the [Knicks’] front office. I’m not going.
“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.”
Asked if he really believes that he could be killed if he travels to London, Kanter said, “Oh yeah, easy.
“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” he said. “I can get killed very easy. That will be a very ugly situation.”
Kanter has been a literal wanted man in Turkey since he criticized Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter in 2016. The Turkish government wanted to sentence Kanter to four years in jail after that, and Kanter was later briefly stuck in Romania after Turkey canceled his passport. It’s no wonder his only international travel now is to Toronto for Raptors games.
There’s never a reason to risk your life for a basketball game. Especially not for the Knicks.