Fearing Turkish spies would try to execute him, Enes Kanter of the Knicks will not travel with the team to London.
Kanter, a native of Turkey, is an outspoken critic of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He was detained in Romania for several hours the last time he traveled overseas.
Erdogan issued an international warrant for Kanter’s arrest last May. Kanter’s passport was deemed exempt by the Turkish government.
The Knicks and Wizards are scheduled to play in London on Jan. 17.
“They’ve got a lot of spies there,” Kanter said. “I think I can get killed there easy. That will be a very ugly situation.”
Knicks officials said Kanter would not travel due to visa issues. To Kanter, it’s a safety matter, he said Friday night.
“Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president,” Kanter said. “There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going. So I’m just going to stay here, just practice here. 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 recently met with the Knicks’ GM to discuss his reduced role in the lineup.
–Field Level Media