Enes Kanter Says He Was Left Off Turkey's National Team Over Political Views

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 24, 2015

Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (34) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against Sacramento Kings in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

Enes Kanter, a 23-year-old center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, claims he has been left off the Turkey national team's 20-man roster for this summer's European Championships for non-basketball reasons.   

According to a report from the Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish national team head coach Ergin Ataman said Kanter didn't make the team: "National team coach Ergin Ataman said Kanter was left out of the 20-man initial squad because 'he did not apologize' for incidents in the past, while the 23-year-old player, an open supporter of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, claimed the decision was based on his political views."

In the same article, Ataman claimed the decision had nothing to do with politics: “I wanted to have a close relationship with Enes since I took over the job last year, but could not get any response. He still has not apologized to his teammates for past incidents, but he may be a part of the squad in the future."

Per Today's Zaman, Kanter said "the reason why I was excluded from the national team is my values and political views."

The Hurriyet Daily News also noted Turkey's national basketball team generated controversy in 2013 for leaving Cenk Akyol off of the roster for what a lot of people felt "was the result of his refusal to speak to NTV after the deciding game of the Beko Basketball League Final at the time of Gezi protests."

Kanter has played for Turkey multiple times in the past, starting in 2008 at the FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, and he followed that up at the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. He would go on to be the third overall draft pick to the Utah Jazz in 2011 before being dealt to Oklahoma City last February. 

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