Although it wasn’t a Christmas day victory for the Toronto Raptors, as they took a loss against the Boston Celtics, some of the greatest winnings took place for Canada off the court.
Toronto, as a city, and Canada as a country were able to come together as one while they welcomed Boston Celtics’ centre, Enes Kanter. With everything going on between the Turkish government and Kanter, Enes was truly grateful to be welcomed with comfort and ease into Canada, especially after the massive ordeal that has blown up in the tabloids. Due to the severity of what has been taking place back in Kanter’s home country of Turkey, he has been forced to stay within the United States’ parameters out of fear to return anywhere near the place he once used to call home.
For Kanter, just being able to step outside American soil and share that moment with his teammates, was a Christmas gift in itself. Sadly, for Enes Kanter, the last time he saw his family was back in 2015, and he can’t even remember when the last time they spoke was. “My family had to put a statement out there and said we are disowning Enes, but the Turkish government didn’t believe that. They sent police to my house in Turkey and raided the whole house.” The struggle has remained an uphill battle to date, and Kanter’s hopeful, but fearful message continues to shed light on the situation, hoping for a brighter future.
Back in 2017, Kanter had to flee Indonesia while he was there running a basketball camp due to fear of being kidnapped. Kanter was detained in an airport in Romania and was told his Turkish passport would be cancelled by the Turkish government, ultimately fearing they would send him back to Turkey. With all of the public stories that discuss Enes Kanter’s life due to his career as an NBA player, there isn’t much that can be hidden from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. All the controversy follows, and Kanter feels that because of all the death threats he receives from Erdogan’s troops, his life could be in danger if he was residing anywhere other than America.
Proud and confident, this will not steer Kanter away from continuing to speak up. He believes that being an NBA player has given him a platform to use, and he plans to continue to openly share and defend his free rights of opinion against what the Turkish government is doing. His ultimate goal is to represent freedom and to continue to fight for himself and the other, hundreds of thousands, who have lost their rights under the Turkish president. Unfortunately, Kanter says that his sister and father have both lost their jobs, which further led his father to receiving a charge in affiliation to “membership in a terror group.”
What Kanter hopes to do is set the record straight, proclaiming his innocence to Turkish residents back home. Reinforcing that the allegations against him associated with terrorism are false. Kanter’s expression of opinion and belief are similar to that of NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, who suffered mistreatment by the league due to his decision to take action and speak out against police brutality, and other issues impacting Black communities. Kanter will continue to use his voice.
After a nice win in Toronto, Kanter humbled with joy and appreciation, sent out a tweet thanking Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for the warm, friendly welcome, and all the efforts that allowed him to come and play in Toronto’s Scotiabank arena. He is truly grateful for this year’s gift, making it into another country.
After finishing a strong win against the Raptors, Kanter averages 7.8 points a game, and hopes to keep the winning steak strong as the Boston Celtics have won the last 3 games in a row. Kanter also had his first 20- point game of the season back in beginning of December, and maintains an average of 14.6 rebounds. While Kanter continues to help put Boston in a position to win more games, he plans to host and lead more basketball camps state to state. By doing this, he remains positive in sending out further messages of hope and relativity to anyone else out there who may be struggling under controlling government conditions. With lots of support, and familiarity of thousands who can empathize, Kanter hopes for a unit of togetherness. Thanks to Canada, Kanter’s faith strengthens as his trek for freedom continues.