Turkey is not sending a basketball team to the Olympics this summer, but Enes Kanter still finds himself connected to his home country in the NBA offseason. For Kanter, however, that connection is much more somber. The Turkish government managed to withstand an attempted military coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, imprisoning thousands of soldiers afterwards, and Kanter has been drawn into the aftermath.
The Oklahoma City Thunder big man previously criticized the country’s handling of a suicide bombing in March, and now he claims he’s receiving death threats in the wake of the failed coup. He posted screenshots of the threats (written in Turkish), and said on Twitter, “Death threats continue to fall. Prayer does not stand still.”
We’re not going to even waste words with an obvious condemnation of death threats, but we can’t help but see a parallel between Kanter’s situation and that of athletes like Carmelo Anthony, who are speaking out against police violence in our country. Athletes are often some of the most public figures in a country, and it’s natural for them to feel pressure or responsibility to speak about the important issues of the day, but in doing so they open themselves up for reactions from everyone. There’s not much to do besides weather the storm and stick to your principles.