Enes Kanter will be the subject of a fascinating docu-series one day. NBA player by day, open opponent of authoritarian regimes by night. Kanter's battle against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been well-documented over the last few years, and Kanter continues to speak out against what he believes to be unjust rule by Erdoğan over Kanter's fellow Turkey natives.
This has not come without consequences. Kanter's father was jailed for his son's public condemnation of Erdoğan (but fortunately was released in June). Appearing on the Bill Simmons Podcast to talk about bubble life and his human rights campaign, Kanter revealed that other Turkish players in the NBA refuse to speak to Kanter out of fear that Erdoğan could punish their family and friends the same way he has Kanter's.
"What hurts me the most is other Turkish players, we have Ersan Ilysova, we have Cedi Osman in Cleveland, we have Furkman Korkmaz in Philly. Whenever we go against them, they don't say a word. I actually try to talk to them. I'm like, 'Hey, dude, what's up? How you doin?' No answer. Because they might be scared of the Turkish government, if they see a video or picture of us talking or something, they might be in trouble or whatever. I actually cover my mouth with my jersey and try to talk to them, and they face the other way."
Kanter went on to explain that he knows all the Turkish players, which is what makes it even more hurtful. He played with Ilyasova in Oklahoma City and on the Turkish national team before Kanter was banned from country competitions. Osman and Korkmaz played with Kanter's brother. Yet they refuse to speak to Kanter because of the danger he represents for themselves and any relatives in Turkey.
Man. What a brutal spot to be in. Don't let anybody tell you fighting for what's right is easy. Kanter is living proof that it's not. His family and friends are being taken away from him, but he stands so firmly in his convictions that he won't back down. We need more Enes Kanters in the world.