Fearing for his life, Enes Kanter will not accompany the New York Knicks to London for a game against the Washington Wizards on Jan. 17.
Kanter, a vocal critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, says he’s worried about a possible assassination attempt.
— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) January 6, 2019
The 26-year-old center hasn’t visited his home country since 2015.
He was stranded in a Romanian airport in 2017 while on a trip to support his charity and needed help from the NBA and U.S. politicians to escape.
“Well, I talked to the [Knicks’] front office,” he said after the win over the Lakers on Friday night. “Sadly, I’m not going because of that freaking lunatic, the Turkish president. There’s a chance that I can get killed out there. So that’s why I talked to the front office. I’m not going. So I’m just going to stay here, just practice here.
“It’s pretty sad that just all this stuff affects my career and basketball, because I want to be out there helping my team win. But just because of that one lunatic guy, one maniac or dictator, I can’t even go out there and just do my job.”
Asked if he is serious in his concern that he could be killed, Kanter said: “Oh yeah, easy. They’ve got a lot of spies there. I can get killed very easy. That will be a very ugly situation.”