Skip to content

A Study of Drama: Enes Kanter vs. Turkish National Team

September 6, 2014

Enes Kanter and the Sportoto World Cup

Drama erupting every summer between Enes Kanter and the Turkish national team is starting to reach “certain as death and taxes” level.

To recap, Kanter had previously played for Turkey’s U-16 and U-18 teams but declined a call-up to play for the men’s team in 2010. Just weeks after being drafted by the Jazz, he joined the Turkish men’s team for the first time, prior to Eurobasket 2011.

It seemed to be a big deal at the time, with the team even holding a press conference at the airport upon Kanter’s arrival in Turkey.

The coach of the national team, Orhun Ene, was quickly impressed by how Kanter was able to integrate himself into the team:

“He is already playing as part of the team,” [Ene] said. “Both on the court and off it, he has become part of the team very quickly. The fact that he had not played for so long posed a serious question in our minds at first, but he has adapted very quickly.”

It seems like everything went well enough through Eurobasket, although one member of the coaching staff did express sentiments early on that he didn’t feel Kanter was ready for the NBA:

“All the coaching staff and people around basketball think that it is too early for him to go there (to the NBA),” said Nihat Izic, an assistant head coach of the Turkey National Team told Beyond the Beat.*

“He has the chance to play in the Euro League and then after that, when you feel you are ready, then you go to the NBA. He decided to go, and I’m not sure who gave him that advice.” (Pro Basketball Talk)

* This website no longer exists.

Fast forward eight months. The Jazz’s 2011-2012 [regular season] campaign ended with Kanter’s mic drop. He again declined to play for the Turkish NT, and proceeded to have himself a summer of fun on Twitter while dropping 50 pounds on a salad and seafood diet that he invented himself.

In August 2012, a Turkish NT technical coordinator, Bogdan Tanjevic, was quoted saying:

He is a great talent and we miss him a lot. He decided not to join us but honestly, he needs us more than we need him. He has not played or trained with us in the past three years…Without Kanter, it will be a little more difficult but I think we’ll be able to get into EuroBasket 2013. …

Kanter has forgotten how to play basketball. He will never be a center but he always starts with his back to the basket. As a power forward, this would be devastating. He’s 2.10 meters tall and [could be] the best shooter on the Turkish team, backcourt included. But in the NBA, he never takes a shot.” (Ball in Europe)

(This led to Jazz-owned media lambasting the entire Turkish national team and mis-attributing these quotes to the head coach, presumably because Tanjevic said in contrast to Europe, the NBA only has a few great coaches, and included Tyrone Corbin on his list of “weak” NBA coaches.)

Fast forward eight months again. Kanter’s 2012-2013 campaign was cut short in late March by a shoulder injury, making him unavailable to the Turkish NT even if things had been all peachy and dandy between the two sides.

Turkey lost three straight games and was eliminated from Eurobasket 2013 that summer, and all T-H-I-S unfolded from there (including a scolding from Memo Okur).

Fast forward, like, 10 months. When the news first broke in late June this year that Kanter needed knee surgery, the initial reports all included notes about how the surgery meant Kanter was out for the FIBA World Cup.

It was somewhat surprising to me that it had been announced or it was assumed that Kanter was on the Turkish NT, because he had talked with David Locke about the “bad blood” between himself and the team during the 2013-2014 season, and said he hopes to repair the relationship “one day,” but “I think right now, I think it’s a little early.”

In late July, the Turkish NT’s team doctor, Tahsin Beyzadeoğlu, gave an update on Kanter’s current condition that appeared on the Turkish Basketball Federation’s website. The gist of it, from what I can gather through Google Translate, was that Kanter was recovering well and could still potentially join the NT in August.

This brings us to an interview with Kanter published by Turkish newspaper “Hürriyet” on Sept. 2, entitled (translated) “I’m Not a Traitor.”

Quotes from the article, as translated by (and with notes from) addictionary on Jazzfanz:

–I have informed the Turkish Basketball Federation and their doctor about my operation. What he said afterwards was irresponsible. I am the most criticized giant in the 12 Giant Men (Turkish NT nickname) even though I wasn’t playing in it for the last 2 years.

–It went far to calling me traitor Enes, but I believe the truth will reveal itself soon.

–I will be joining my team in the trainings in the 1st or 2nd week of September. I’m looking forward to be beneficial to my NT in the years coming.

–We (the Jazz) want to build a strong chemistry this year and surpass last year. This of course is about playoffs. Personally I want to do the best to represent Turkey and get selected to All-Star. And most importantly, carrying a team to the championship and be the 2nd Turkish player to wear the ring.

–Obradovic (Fenerbahçe’s coach) and Ivkovic (Efes’ Coach) are two of the best in Europe and better than most NBA coaches (was that to Ty?).

–I have watched the lies with patience. They try to make Turkish fans distrust me. Enes is fine. His knee is fine. He uses this excuse to skip NT. He doesn’t tell anything to NT. There was not an MR report by my doctor when they said my knee was OK. I am more willing than previous seasons to wear the Turkish NT jersey. I will be fully ready to join full performance matches at the end of September. Turkish Basketball Federation Chairman said the other day “We believe in Enes.” Made me very happy.

–My laughter tweet “hahahaha” was not for the NT, not for the people of Turkey. It was for some names,* who came to their status and power by “knowing” some higher ground people and could not help get jelly about my success and talk BS back then. I pray for Allah to forgive them anyway. I will try to repair the broken hearts of young basketball fans because of that.

* At the time, Kanter said the tweet was to his brother.

In response to Kanter’s interview, the team doctor released a statement saying (in a Google Translated nutshell) that he doesn’t want to respond to Kanter’s comments because he wants to focus on the team and the World Cup.

Some additional clarification, courtesy of @ssan1110:

ssan1110 tweets

So there you have it. See y’all next summer (or earlier) for the next installment.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Serdar Yalcin permalink
    September 7, 2014 5:13 pm

    There are several layers of the problem between Enes and NT. These layers are problematic and cannot be easily resolved. We Turkish NT needs him, he would be the difference maker for this tournament, and he could learn something from playing with the national team (if you watched 3 quarters of USA-Turkey national match). He lost this change, and NT lost a player who can make a difference. Gain + gain is better than loss + loss. It is better to compromise, I do not how, and I do not now when, but we all need it.


  1. Enes Kanter will not play for Turkish national team, reasons unclear - Sports Fire
  2. Enes Kanter will not play for Turkish national team, reasons unclear - The Sports Center
  3. Enes Kanter will not play for Turkish national team, reasons unclear – Sports Take


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: