NEW YORK - Former NBA player Hedo Turkoglu, now a chief adviser to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rebuked New York Knicks center Enes Kanter’s fears about his homeland Monday as a “smear campaign.”
Kanter said last week he would not join the Knicks for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in London on Jan. 17 because he fears he might be murdered by Turkish spies for his criticism of Erdogan, whom he called a “freaking lunatic.”
“There’s a chance that I can get killed out there,” Kanter said. “They have a lot of spies there. I can be killed easily.
“It’s pretty sad because it affects my career, my basketball. 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.”
Turkoglu, who played for six NBA clubs from 2000-2015, called Kanter’s comments “delusions” and cited the Knicks saying Kanter, whose passport was canceled by the Turkish embassy in May 2017, would not travel due to visa issues.
“In other words, Kanter cannot enter the UK not because of fears for his life but due to passport and visa issues. This being the long-known truth, he is trying to get the limelight with irrational justifications and political remarks,” Turkoglu said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Such remarks constitute another example of the political smear campaign Kanter has been conducting against Turkey as well as his efforts to attribute importance to himself by covering up the contradictions in his sports career.”
“Kanter not only targeted the Republic of Turkey, governed by the rule of law, but he also regarded the British security forces as weak and attempted to harm Turkish-British relations. It’s obvious this person’s remarks are irrational and distort the truth.”