Beyond the Arc
by Ben Fiore
In early January, Enes Kanter told the media that he would not travel with the New York Knicks for their trip to London, UK because he “feared for his life” and didn’t want to run the risk of his assassination. That seemed quite extreme, especially for a situation that wasn’t thoroughly explained. Now we know why.
Kanter is currently being prosecuted for being a member of an alleged terror group. He is accused of being a supporter and member of an organization called Fethullah Gullen. Prosecutors are citing an Interpol “Red Notice” due to Kanter’s seemingly strong connection to the group. He has allegedly been financially supporting and funding them for years. Which to me whether you are a part of the acts or not, your financial support aids the mission as much as, if not more than being there when something happens.
After Kanter openly stated that he would not travel with the Knicks to London, he explained why by saying it was due to beef with current Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter was quoted saying “Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic. It’s pretty sad that all the stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there and help my team win. But just because of the one lunatic guy, one maniac, one dictator, I can’t even go out there and do my job. It’s pretty sad.” Erdogan has mixed reviews by the public, including Kanter who has claimed him as “the Hitler of our century”. Kanter’s seemingly main hatred for Erdogan comes from personal issues. Erdogan had Kanter’s father indicted last year for being a part of the same terror group that Kanter is now accused of participating in. Kanter and his father have reportedly spoke publicly about the terror group rumors being “misunderstood” and that they do not support any terror groups. Though the evidence isn’t on the Kanter family’s side. Kanter’s father has been seen with and claimed as a close companion of multiple members of Fethullah Gullen. Enes Kanter also showed bank statement records of money to members of said organization.
Let’s view this openly for a second. There are two possible sides. On one33 hand, maybe Kanter is right. Maybe the Turkish government has some serious corrupt flaws that go untouched because they are well, the government (go figure). Maybe President Erdogan truly is targeting the Kanter family in a wrongful manner and is getting away with it by controlling the Turkish media and law enforcement while spreading false claims. Then on the other hand though, what if Kanter really is guilty and has been hiding this catastrophic information with a high NBA profile filled with basketball and personal charisma with the American media. So are the evidence and rumors truly damning, or is it fabricated fake news over an internal feud? I feel that with having so much attention around him for such a long time, it would be hard to be a part of a terrorist group without anyone noticing. But history doesn’t support that either. Take a look at Marvin Harrison (legendary Colts receiver from the 2000’s). Marvin Harrison was seen as a talented, respectful, polite, and admirable man while being in the NFL. Shortly after his retirement, stories broke out about him being a co-leader of a Philadelphia gang. There was specifically two that took me by surprise. A teenage fan at the 2009 pro-bowl approached Harrison and two friends for an autograph in Honolulu somewhere. Harrison asked the kid to leave, but the kid requested again. Harrison then had himself and two friends beat the hell out of this kid. Harrison was also accused of orchestrating a murder of a Philadelphia man who told the media about Harrison’s secret life. Kanter could be in a similar scenario. What if he’s just done a great job hiding that lifestyle like Harrison did. It would come as a surprise to most because Kanter is one of the biggest and most charismatic personalities in the NBA. Or is that part of the smoke screen?
How will this effect the NBA? Which side will they take? What will the Commissioner decide on Kanter’s future in the league? How will the Knicks and his teammates respond? All valuable questions that need to, and will be answered soon. I jokingly have always referred to Enes Kanter as “Penis Cancer”, but all jokes aside this is clearly a big deal. A lot of this information is by speculation without clarification for now, but the truth will surface soon. Occasions like this are so rare in the NBA, and god I hope it stays that way.