Enes Kanter will not join the Knicks on their upcoming visit to London as he fears for his life traveling to Europe due to his critical comments of Turkish president/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kanter has long been an opponent of Erdogan and has already dealt with the ramifications of those actions before as he was detained at an airport in Romania in 2016, along with facing prison time if he ever returns to Turkey. Kanter told reporters he won’t go to London out of fear of a potential assassination attempt by Turkish spies, and it’s understandable that he wouldn’t be too keen to travel to Europe.
Former Turkish NBA star Hedo Turkoglu, who is now a chief advisor of Erdogan, posted to Twitter on Monday morning and said Kanter wouldn’t be traveling due to visa issues, calling Kanter “delusional” and accusing him of continuing a smear campaign against Erdogan and Turkey.
Kanter, unsurprisingly, responded on Twitter by posting his passport and claiming he has the necessary documents to travel and continues to insist his visa is not the issue, but that he’s not going because of the possibility he is in danger. He then took a shot at Turkoglu for being Erdogan’s “lap dog” or, at the least, delusional himself.
Turkoglu and Kanter have been at odds before, and the latter’s criticism of the former has actually led to a trial in which Kanter was found guilty in absentia and would hypothetically serve prison time for were he to ever return to his home country while Erdogan were in power. Kanter has been unafraid to criticize the regime in Turkey from afar, but there seems to be real fear for his safety were he to leave the United States and travel with the Knicks.