Turkish prosecutors want a four-year jail term for Knicks big man Enes Kanter, charging him with insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man with dictatorial powers. Kanter is obviously not going back to his native country for this, so they plan to try him in absentia, pretty much always the sign of a biased court. (If insulting the president was a crime in the USA, is there anyone who would not be in jail after the past decade?)
Kanter’s response to all this? A shrug.
Here’s what he said at Knicks practice, via ESPN.
“You guys were seeing today that I was just out there having fun, playing basketball and practicing with my teammates,” Kanter said. “…. I’m good. My focus right now is just going out there, playing basketball, having fun with my teammates and just winning, and just thinking about playoffs. I don’t really think about all this stuff, whatever. They can do whatever they want to do.”
Kanter went on social media after the story broke on Turkish state media and wrote (in Turkish): “I have said less than that honorless (person) deserves. Add another 4 years for me, master.”
Kanter grew up in Turkey but is a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who Erdogan blames for last year’s failed military coup. Over the summer, Turkey cancelled Kanter’s passport and he was detained in Romania, until some help from American diplomats got him to the United States again.
What Kanter thinks will most get under the skin of Erdogan is for him to play well, the Knicks to do well, and him to be playing on bigger stages in front of more people.
“If we make playoffs, then that will drive him crazy, so that’s what I’m really focused on right now, just make the playoffs and drive this dude crazy,” he said.
Knicks fans hope Kanter succeeds in this quest.