Just months away from becoming a United States citizen, Enes Kanter still needs a panic button by his bedside for the continuous threats he receives from his home country of Turkey.
According to an interview conducted by NBC Sports Northwest Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes, Kanter explained how he lives out hotels–not houses or apartments–as a 28-year old, 10-year NBA veteran due to fear for his own life. The 6-foot-11 Portland Trail Blazers center and former Kentucky Wildcat has not been quiet about his harsh criticism against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the past, who has been accused of overthrowing the state of democracy in the country of Turkey.
"The threats are real and I’m still getting them every week."@EnesKanter still receives death threats, sleeps with panic button for criticism of Turkish President Erdogan. #RipCityhttps://t.co/4WfCf6lD3q
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) January 21, 2021
Kanter once called Erdogan the “Hitler of our century” after the Portland Trail Blazers big man was detained at a Romanian airport back in 2017 and had his passport canceled. Turkey later issued an arrest warrant for Kanter in 2019, claiming that he is a member of a terrorist organization. All of these compounding issues have made it nearly impossible for Kanter to travel outside of the states, even when his job as a professional basketball player will sometimes require him to make a trip to Canada or overseas for a London-based game.
That, combined with the constant death threats he’s been receiving ever since he made public his stance against Erdogan, has made life in America vastly different than his teammates and most U.S. citizens. He’s always moving from hotel to hotel because “there’s a lobby, there’s people out there that can protect you…”, some of which are oftentimes equipped with a “panic button” that Kanter can press at any moment he feels uncomfortable.
“Actually, two years ago, I sat down with the FBI and we had a conversation,” Kanter told Jaynes. “They said whenever you need us, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll be there and you’ll be fine. They come to my room, they set up this thing, and they give me a button. If I feel ever uncomfortable or ever like I worry about anything, they always tell me push that button and we’ll be there in 2 or 3 minutes.”
Kanter says the support he’s received from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and the people of Portland, the city he calls “home sweet home”, helps him through the day. In particular, his Trail Blazers teammates are the ones that he says give him the hope and energy he needs to keep fighting on and off the court.
In the same interview, Kanter says he expects to gain United State citizenship this year in June after he was initially issued his green card back in 2016. He even said he’s thinking about adding an American name, as well. Any ideas for the BBN fan-favorite?