The story surrounding Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter and his home country of Turkey started all the way back in 2017.
Then a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kanter saw his passport to Turkey revoked after a show of defiance against heavy-handed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Just earlier this year, the country issued an arrest warrant against Kanter, absurdly claiming he’s involved in a terrorist organization.
With that as the backdrop, the scene Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver was ugly. During Game 2 of Portland’s playoff series against the Nuggets, fans could be heard mocking Kanter in a horrible manner.
Kanter himself has since responded.
And now, so has the NBA. Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced on Thursday that the league is ending its relationship with an official NBA account in Turkey.
“Fans in Turkey can watch all playoff games featuring Enes Kanter and the Portland Trail Blazers on NBA League Pass and NBA TV International,” Tatum noted, via ESPN’s Royce Young. “The NBA Turkey Twitter account was managed by a local vendor and we are terminating that relationship.”
This is certainly a step in the right direction. Even as a developed country, the people of Turkey have nowhere near the same freedoms we see in North America and the vast majority of the western world enjoys.
What we’ve seen surrounding Kanter magnifies this to a T. And the response from some fans in Denver Wednesday night simply isn’t acceptable.