New York Knicks Enes Kanter
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is receiving death threats for taking a stand against Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Enes Kanter will not be traveling with the New York Knicks when they take on the Washington Wizards in London on Jan. 17. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to imprison Kanter for what he calls political smears.

As a result, Kanter is receiving death threats and he’s afraid an Erdogan supporter will try to kidnap him and bring him back to Turkey to stand trial.

“There are over 100 people — journalists, community leaders, and teachers that just speak out against the government and they’ve been getting kidnapped and sent back to Turkey,” Kanter tells CNN. “So that’s why I was scared of going to London…


“After I made that comment about London I have been getting hundreds and hundreds of death threats almost every day.”

There was some confusion over whether or not Kanter’s absence was caused by his fear of kidnapping or a visa issue. Former NBA player Hedo Turkoglu — an Erdogan supporter — accused Kanter of lying about his visa issue. The Knicks also took this position at one time.

But Kanter explained his visa issue to the Knicks. Even so, the Knicks and Kanter decided that it was still a good idea to leave Kanter in New York. The Turkish center posted his travel documents to Twitter to prove that he was able to leave the country.

The issues between Kanter and Turkey are much bigger than basketball. He’ll play one fewer game this season and not from an injury or suspension — but because he’s afraid for his life.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.