Knicks’ Kanter to skip London trip, fearing Erdogan reprisal

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

"I talk to the front office and decided I'm not going, " Kanter said. I told him, keep working, I guarantee we are going to need you and use you as the season goes.

The Knicks said the 26-year-old Turkish professional basketball player would not make the trip because of a visa issue.

This, of course, is not the only time that Kanter has had his life disrupted by Erdogan, a man who the Washington Post Editorial Board once described as "transforming Turkey into a totalitarian prison".

"They got a lot of spies there", Kanter said when asked if he really believed he could die if he travelled to London. Because I want to be out there but just because of that one lunatic guy, that one maniac, I can't go out there and do my job.

He said he could not travel anywhere except the U.S. and Canada because "there's a chance I could get killed out there". "I would hope that we could get a string of wins together here and get ourselves into contention for the playoffs".

His Turkish passport was revoked in 2017, and an global warrant for his arrest was issued, with Turkish prosecutors asking for Kanter to be jailed for up to four years. Kanter has run into much more serious circumstances due to the ruler of his homeland, but this will be the first time that conflict has spilled onto an National Basketball Association court.

Kanter is good friends with Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams as the pair played in together for the Oklahoma City Thunder for two seasons.

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He has never since left North America. He also confirmed the only country he can travel to is Canada because his passport was revoked by the Turkish government.

The Anadolu news agency reported in December 2017 that a Turkish prosecutor had demanded that Kanter be jailed up to four years for the crime of "insulting" Erdogan.

Kanter has been a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an opponent of Erdogan who has been living in exile in the United States since 1999.

"I'm not a criminal or a radical".

"That's exactly why I speak out", Kanter wrote. "He's vocal. He's all in and he has opinions, but it's instigated by me. Erdogan does not respect that right in me or anyone else, and is willing to crush anyone who criticizes him".

The Knicks are scheduled to play the Milwaukee Bucks in London on January 17. His name has often been linked with head coaching vacancies including the Wolves opening that would eventually go to Thibodeau in April 2016.

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