Should the Trail Blazers defeat the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and the Raptors take down the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, Enes Kanter might have a problem.
Portland would have to travel to Toronto for at least two games for the NBA Finals, which would put the Turkish player in a sticky situation. Kanter has publicly criticized Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who then revoked Kanter’s Turkish passport.
This means him leaving the United States would be very difficult, which prompted Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to write a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ensure Kanter’s safety.
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 14, 2019
“I ask your government to facilitate Mr. Kanter’s safe passage to and from Canada should the Portland Trail Blazers play the Toronto Raptors in Toronto, Canada, in the upcoming NBA Finals,” the letter states. “I also urge your government to state publicly that it will not comply with any Interpol red notice meant to interfere with Mr. Kanter’s livelihood and to intimidate him and his family back in Turkey.”
Kanter said Wyden has been extremely supportive of him since he joined the Trail Blazers in February, when he was traded away from the Knicks. In the past, he’s had to skip out on international trips, including going with Portland to play Toronto earlier this season and not flying with the Knicks to play in London in January.
“I have full confidence to myself and my team to win the Western Conference finals,” Kanter told ESPN. “Going to Toronto will be a bit hectic for me for the reasons you know, and I know Senator Wyden is working hard to make sure that I can make it and I really appreciate it.
“On the other side, I know the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Justin Trudeau is a good leader and I have confidence in him to help with my situation,” Kanter said. “I know this because he’s already helping many more Turkish citizens, in the Hizmet movement, who are oppressed by the Dictator Erdogan regime right now.”
Kanter has publicly supported Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused by the Turkish government of organizing a failed coup in 2016 to oust Erdogan. Now Turkey is trying to get an Interpol red notice, which could result in Kanter being deported and detained.
“Even if Senator Wyden and PM Trudeau does their best, Dictator Erdogan will try using/abusing all his powers to manipulate red notice system through Interpol,” Kanter told ESPN. “As you know, I am a law abiding citizen both in Turkey and here in the U.S. — I never broke a single law in my life, didn’t even have a parking ticket, but Turkish government cancels my passport … WHY? it’s simply because I’m an outspoken critic of Dictator Erdogan. So, Erdogan might push all his chances through Interpol, which I believe he tries abusing it.
“Interpol should not let itself to get abused by any Dictator regime, including Erdogan’s,” Kanter continued. “No matter whatever they do, I won’t back down from my fight in the path of democracy, uplifting human rights and freedom of speech.”
Kanter is in the process of earning his U.S. citizenship, but that process won’t be complete until 2021.
Meanwhile, Turkish broadcaster S Sport will not televise Portland’s series against the Warriors since Kanter is on the team. The network also said it won’t broadcast the NBA Finals should the Trail Blazers make it past Golden State.