On Sept. 6, the United States State Department issued a travel advisory for Turkey due potential unrest in the region. The warning is for the southeast part of the country in particular, which borders Syria (if I need to tell you about the issues there you need to read more than the sports section).
Istanbul is in the northwest part of Turkey and the travel advisory does not directly impact that area — so the Thunder are still going there on Wednesday.
Oklahoma City is one of the teams scheduled to promote the NBA overseas this preseason and their first game is this Saturday in Istanbul (from there they go on to Manchester, England, which is only dangerous if you wear a City jersey to a United pub).
Concerns over the safety of players, coaches and team and league personnel raised questions recently about whether the first leg of the Thunder’s two-game European tour would be canceled. But the Thunder is scheduled to depart for Istanbul on Wednesday, with the team left to trust that the NBA-mandated trip will be as secure as any other road game…
Tim Frank, the NBA’s senior vice president for basketball communications, could not offer clarity on what measures would be taken to keep the Thunder organization safe. Citing league policy, Frank said the NBA does not comment on security procedures.
“Obviously we are aware of the situation in Syria and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our teams and staff,” Frank said.
Over the weekend the Thunder players were briefed on the security and security concerns, according to the report. It apparently was a pretty standard briefing with players just getting an update on what you should do when traveling overseas.
Kevin Durant has some name recognition in Turkey — he was the MVP of the 2010 World Championships in Istanbul, where Team USA won gold (Russell Westbrook was on that team as well).
The league and the Thunder wouldn’t do anything to put the players in danger, so it must be safe, but my guess is the players don’t quite go out and hit the town like this is New York.