Enes Kanter fears retribution from supporters of Tayyip Erdogan.
While the notion of Enes Kanter "enemy of the state" status in his native Turkey isn't something we've just learned on the eve of the Knicks' trip to London. Since the overseas matchup with the Washington Wizards was announced, Kanter has been struggling with the question of whether it would be in his best interest to participate in the trip with his teammates.
There's a real concern that if he steps foot in Europe, he will be easier to track. His suspicion is that Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan and his supporters would relish the opportunity to see him killed, as crazy as that might sound. Kanter first drew the ire of president Erdogan due to his support of an exiled political opponent.
Although Turkey isn't in the EU, once Kanter crosses the European frontier, he becomes easier to track. For the last year or so, Kanter has been airing on the safe side by avoiding international travel, save for trips in Toronto to face the Raptors. Incidentally, Kanter came to his decision sometime before Friday night's contest with the Los Angeles Lakers. After the game, he spilled the beans with the media at his beck and call.
"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," Kanter told the media, who were no doubt shocked to hear how drastic the situation with Erdogan had become.
A startled reporter then asked him to elaborate on the viable threat of assassination posed by Erdogan and his supporters, to which he responded "Oh yeah, easy," in a resolute manner. "They've got a lot of spies there," he explained. "I can get killed very easy. That will be a very ugly situation." The Knicks and Wizards meet in London on January 17th, without Kanter in the mix.