When it comes to Kentucky players, much like UNC’s, we atavistically dislike them.
There are exceptions of course. We thought Theo Pinson was a cool guy and respected Marcus Paige a great deal. Before he was at UK, De’Aaron Fox went way out of his way to look after a disabled classmate which made a big impression on us.
For the most part though, we like making fun of Tar Heels and Wildcats until circumstances dictate otherwise.
In the case of Enes Kanter, consider them dictated.
We preface this by saying we have no interest at all in political issues within Turkey. We can’t understand them honestly, but even if we did it’s their business, not ours, and they can take care of themselves.
Where we do get interested is when it crosses over to the US and in the case of Kanter, it has crossed repeatedly and aggressively.
As we said, we had for a long time just viewed him as a Kentucky guy, even though he couldn’t play there due to NCAA issues. As an NBA player though, the guy has shown immense guts because he’s put up with death threats, having to worry about his family and a lot of other things.
Because he’s essentially a dissident in exile and the Turkish government would like to punish him whenever possible (he skipped a team trip to London recently because he was concerned he might get extradited).
He had planned a basketball camp at the Islamic Center of Long Island but the Turkish Consulate pressured the mosque not to go through with it and did so, Kanter says, in some very unsavory ways.
Kanter issued this statement: “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. Which is why I am so hurt that the Islamic Center of Long Island has decided to cancel the camp after the Turkish Consulate in NYC threatened the mosque, sent out their goons and encouraged people in Turkey to call the mosque and leave threatening messages.
“I am even more disappointed in the Mosque for not calling the police on these thugs. Instead bowing down before this dictator and his regime, the mosque chose to cancel something positive for the kids.”
There’s really no excuse for that, particularly if goons and threats were called in.
We’ve been impressed with how Kanter has handled being branded a terrorist. We don’t fully understand the beef Turkey has with him or why it’s gotten to this level. As far as we can tell, the only thing he’s ever done is express his opinion, and he’s done that in an honorable manner.
We do recognize courage when we see it though and this guy has a lot of it. We’d like to see his teammates, the Celtics, the NBA and most of all the American government stand with him. And it’d be nice if John Calipari said something for his former player too.
Update - Turkey responds