‘Let God chastise you,’ Gülen-following NBA player writes under photo with President Erdoğan
OKLAHOMATurkish center Enes Kanter, who signed to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder next season, heated up the debate on his exclusion from the national team, implying in a tweet his exclusion’s links to his political views against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Kanter posted a photo showing President Erdoğan, Los Angeles Clippers player Hidayet Türkoğlu, former NBA player Mirsad Türkcan, FIBA Europe’s Turkish President Turgay Demirel and Turkish Basketball Federation Chairman Harun Erdenay posing for a photo in suits.
“Hey, Turkish nation. Here you are, the registry to why I am excluded from the national team, a concrete document. Pity. Let God chastise you,” he wrote July 13.
Kanter, who had a fruitful season for the Thunder, is a follower of the U.S.-based scholar Fethullah Gülen and a frequent visitor to his house in Pennsylvania.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been trying to crush the Gülen movement, which was close to the party for years, arguing that the group had created a “parallel state” within state institutions.
Meanwhile, the movement’s members, who call themselves “Hizmet” (Service) volunteers, claim the AKP is trying to cover up a massive graft probe launched in December 2013 with its operations.
Several names, including police chiefs, judges and prosecutors, are currently under arrest for their alleged roles in the “parallel state.”
“I wish that the decision and statement on this subject had been a professional one that suited the national team,” Kanter wrote on his Twitter account late on June 23 after the squad was announced.
“The reasons presented do not reflect the truth, the reason I was not included in the squad is the values I believe in and my political stance,” he added.
However, 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, adding that the decision was not political.
“I wanted to have a close relationship with Enes since I took the job over last year, but could not get any response,” he said after announcing the squad, which includes NBA players Ersan İlyasova, Ömer Aşık and Furkan Aldemir.
The Thunder matched a four-year offer from the Portland Trail Blazers worth $70 million (63.5 million euros) to keep the player.
Kanter, the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 18.7 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder last season after being traded in February from Utah.
“We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come and we are excited that he will continue with us,” AFP quoted Thunder general manager Sam Presti as saying.
“He adds valuable depth to our roster, diversity to our front court and the dimension that he brings offensively will positively impact our team,” he said.
Kanter has NBA career averages of 10.2 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.