Enes Kanter and the Turkish government are friends by no means, and it’s a situation that has gotten uglier as time has gone by.
After criticizing the current government two years ago, Kanter was stuck in Romania after they (Turkey) revoked his passport, claiming that the then Knicks player was part of a terrorist organization. Earlier this year, Kanter had to decline the Knicks’ trip to London to play the Wizards out of fear that the Turkish government would be looking to kill him.
“I talked to the front office and decided I’m not going. The freaking lunatic, there’s a chance I can get killed out there. I talked to the front office. I’m not going. I’m going to stay here and practice. It’s pretty sad. All this stuff affects my career in basketball. I want to help my team win, but because of one lunatic guy I can’t even go there to do my job. It’s pretty sad. They got a lot of spies there. I can get killed pretty easy.”
Now the newly signed Boston Celtics player had the situation flare up again, this time around his youth basketball camp in Long Island, NY.
Such a disgrace that @TRConsulNY attacked @ICLINY through their bully tactics and caused my camp’s cancellation; they punished over 300+ New Yorker kids who were supposed to have a free Basketball camp. This is how the #TurkishDictator operates. pic.twitter.com/CmHmnqWSgH
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) July 25, 2019
According to Kanter, one of his free basketball camps in New York was cancelled after the mosque that was holding the camp received threats from the Turkish consulate in the city, a claim which both the mosque and consulate deny.
“A few members of the Turkish Community reached out saying, ‘you need to check this guy out,'” said Michael Balboni, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Long Island.
He continued on to say that they “don’t take sides”, and this was taking attention from what the camp was about, so they made the decision to postpone the event.
The Turkish consul general in New York, Alper Aktas, also came out against Kanter’s accusations, stating that they were “lies, lies and lies.” He knew about the camp because it was in New York, but he told CNN that “there was no threat and no intimidation.”
But Kanter has remained steady in his claims of harassment against him and his activities by the Turkish government, an action he has maintained in this situation as well.
“I do these camps as part of charity and giving back to all communities, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Christian or have no faith at all,” said Kanter in a statement, making it clear that this camp is for the children and has nothing to do with politics or religion. He also noted that he has established 33 free camps across 25 states this summer and that over 300 kids were scheduled to attend the camp in Long Island before this situation arose.
In that same statement, Kanter said that the Turkish consulate “threatened the mosque, sent out their goons and encouraged people in Turkey to call the mosque and leave threatening messages.” This is what led to the event cancellation.
Unfortunately, the bad blood between Kanter and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government persists, and the consulate general made sure of that by restating their claims that Boston’s new center is part of a terrorist organization.
“Enes is not welcome in the Turkish-American community,” said Aktas. “Enes Kanter is a member of a terrorist organization and a religious cult. I just want the sports-loving community of Long Island to acknowledge those facts.”
But the sports-loving community of Long Island was ready to embrace Kanter through his camp and commitment to children in the area. Now they loose out on the opportunity to learn and have fun because of politics.