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Enes Kanter Returns to Salt Lake City

March 29, 2015
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Enes, talk about your new home. It looks like a good fit for you.
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I love it. I mean, that’s the team that I never experienced before. And just, I mean, I, you know, actually like playing basketball there. I’m just, you know, so comfortable there, and everything goes in the right place, and you know, I’m just really happy to be there.

Rumor is, you and Russell [Westbrook] are a little bit tight. That’s good for a big man and a point guard, right?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I never, you know, I mean, it’s the point guard, you know, the best in the league. So I never had a really point guard like that. You know, I never had a point guard, but I think he’s just, you know, best in league, so.

Are you rejuvenated, do you feel like? Are you playing with more energy, more passion than you had in the past because of the new situation?
Well, like, I think the difference is probably I like playing basketball there. I think that’s the most important thing, you know, just, never liked playing basketball before in my NBA career, and that’s the first time I start, like, playing basketball there for my team, for the fans, for my teammates, for coaches, everybody. So, that’s the first time.

What didn’t you like about the situation with the Jazz?
Well, I think, it wasn’t just, like, a one-game or two-game frustration. It was a, you know, three-and-a-half-year frustration. I’m happy for both sides. You know, I think it worked out well for both side, and I think I’m, now, I’m definitely happy that I’m part of the Oklahoma City team like that, a winner team.

What was the biggest frustration over the three-and-a-half years?
I will say, almost, you know, almost everything. And I didn’t bring it every night,* but I think most of the rest…you know, almost everything was a frustration. So, I just, but you know, I’m still happy for both side. It worked out well for both sides, so.

* I saw this part repeated many times. “How could he call the Jazz unprofessional when he took games off?” FWIW, I thought this part had kind of a “Hey, it takes two to tango and I share some of the blame too” message.

Everybody was a winner, but were more of the frustrations on the court? Off the court?
Well, I think it wasn’t just basketball stuff. I mean, it was just professional reason. I mean, I think it’s just, after I see in OKC, then I was like this how NBA teams are, you know? I mean, it’s just, it was just, you know how, like, you in a dream, and you have, like, a super power? And you don’t, just don’t wanna open your eyes, you don’t wanna end that dream? So, Oklahoma City’s been like that to me.

So then would you consider your experience with Utah a nightmare?
No, I did not say that. I still respect them. You know, I’m still respect them. I still like my coaches here; my, you know, I still have friends here, some friends here. Not a lot. But, still, but you know, I’m just saying, I don’t wanna make no comments on them, but I think, you know, when I, after I went to OKC, then I was like, “Oh man, this is how NBA team is.”

What are those good things you’ve experienced in Oklahoma City?
Well, first of all, I mean, it’s just, we have a leader like Russell, and we have, I love my teammates and I, you know, the fans are amazing. I love the city. It’s a clean city. And I mean, just, everything there is just professional, you know? I mean, I think they do it just for the players and you know, just, you just only focus on basketball and just go out there and play, do your job. Like I said, again, I don’t wanna talk about it here again, ’cause I got a lot of things to say, but I just don’t wanna say it right now.

Do you miss anything about Utah?

** Trevor Booker, asked how personal the game was after Kanter’s comments
He got his stats, but as always, he took the L.
** Booker, asked to comment on Kanter’s comments
We don’t pay attention to that. I mean, we barely even heard about it or whatnot, but we know what we have here.
** Booker, asked by another guy to comment on Kanter’s comments
We definitely knew about it. You know, I’m not sure how personal it was for the other guys, but you know, I definitely wanted to kick his butt…We’re glad he’s not a part of [the team].
** Gordon Hayward, asked “How personal was this game tonight, after someone attacks the heart of your team?”
Yeah, I mean, it’s, man, I mean, the comments that The Former Player on Our Team made were what he felt like, and you know, it’s, if he wants to say those things, he can. I think it kinda pissed us all off, honestly. You know, just fueled the fire for us, and we came out and just wanted to make sure we won.
** Trey Burke, asked “How personal was this game tonight when somebody attacks the heart of your team?”
You know, it was very personal. You know, we, you know, we try to stay away from, you know, those type of things, the media, but you know, it’s, it was kinda, like, disrespect to all of us. You know, we felt, we all felt disrespected so we went out there and, you know, let it be known.

** Rudy Gobert, asked “How personal was this game tonight, after everything that was said by Kanter before this game, and attacking the heart of your team?”
First of all, we lost–we were on a losing streak too. I think we lost, like, four in a row, so we really, and we played, we didn’t play good yesterday, so we really wanted to come out tonight and play very hard. And of course, you know, it was icing on the cake when he say that. And I think everybody got a little bit more motivated before the game.
** Rodney Hood, asked “How personal did you take what was said earlier today, especially with how hard you guys have worked, and somebody attacks the heart of your franchise?”
I mean, we can’t worry about, you know, what other people say. You know, it’s about what we’re doing, what, going forward. You know, we just gotta continue to move forward, and you know, things will take care of itself.

Loved Rudy’s response, as he was the only player to talk first about how the Jazz wanted to end their losing streak before talking about Enes’ comments, and Rodney’s because he didn’t take the bait.

If you’ve only read Kanter’s quotes on Twitter or elsewhere, please do yourself a favor and go listen to the audio or watch the video (they showed excerpts from the interview before the game). The tweets or print quotes sound so much worse than they actually were, particularly when presented outside of the context of the entire conversation and failing to take into account that we’re dealing with a non-native English speaker here.

Kanter was not ranting or angry or emotional. There was laughter and joking during the interview. Kanter was calm and collected while answering questions. If it’s not clear from above, he kept trying to end his responses to questions with “happy for both sides,” but there was at least one media member who appeared desperately eager to get a sound byte or quote that they could tweet or write about for reaction/views/clicks/RTs. It was rather reminiscent of Brian T. Smith and Big Al.

Of course, the TV broadcast just dumped more gasoline on the fire, with Craig Bolerjack declaring things like “Most of [Kanter’s] comments were laced with anger” and “Kanter had a lotta words he may want to reel back in after this game tonight, about the city, about the state, about his teammates, about his point guard, about the franchise.”

Kanter didn’t even say anything about most of the things Boler listed. Just because he said Oklahoma City was clean does not mean he said Salt Lake City is a dump. Just because he said he’s never played with a point guard as good as Russell Westbrook before doesn’t mean he said the Jazz never had a decent point guard. I don’t think he said anything about his former teammates at all.

I can’t even blame Kanter for feeling frustration throughout his time with the Jazz. We heard Derrick Favors talk just a few days ago about how the previous coaching regime would toss the young guys aside and only talk to the vets. I can see how from Kanter’s perspective, that lacked professionalism. (We know Rudy Gobert was another frustrated young player last year. Truth be told, had there not been a coaching change, we could have conceivably ended up in the same place with Gobert as we did Kanter.)

Add on being talked down to by Jazz-employed media like he was a dog that had peed the floor, to being censored on social media, and it’s amazing that during his time here, Kanter was always outwardly the most upbeat guy in the locker room. After good games, he never wanted to talk about himself and always deflected credit to his teammates and coaches.

Bolerjack said during the broadcast, “I really did not realize during his stay with the Jazz that he was so displeased, in his three-and-a-half year stay.” That’s because he never showed it, until the day he asked to be traded.

Booker said at one point after the game that the players barely even heard about Kanter’s comments. I really wonder if they even heard or saw the actual interview, or just some of the worst-sounding quotes via the media and assumed or believed the worst.

Anyway, point is perhaps Kanter shouldn’t have said everything he did tonight, but at least one media member would not let him go until he got a juicy sound byte. Secondly, if you want to portray someone as malcontent, childish and unprofessional, which 1280 personalities and others affiliated with the station did, a torrent of snide remarks, jabs, insults and potshots aren’t really the way to go. In the end, you look just as bad, if not worse.

The trade is regarded as a win-win situation and has worked out well for both sides, so everyone moving onward and forward seems like a good idea. No one has to play the role of the petty, still-obsessed ex-girlfriend with a persecution complex.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremy permalink
    March 29, 2015 11:07 pm

    I disagree with your usual over the top defense against the evil Jazz organization and media members , especially in this case, but I do love coming to this site after games. Keep up the good work.

  2. Superdeno permalink
    March 29, 2015 11:13 pm

    Kanter’s comments weren’t said with maliciousness or anger, but they were unprofessional. You don’t air out dirty laundry to the press, but I do agree some of it was his poor English. He also did say he didn’t have a point guard here, if I was Trey I would be insulted by that statement.

    After that have Kanter also said we aren’t a good basketball team. His reaction at the introduction and post game comments show he knew his comments were digs on the franchise, and he wasn’t sorry about them.

    • March 30, 2015 5:47 am

      Re the part about the point guard: That to me was one of the parts that was exaggerated and taken out of context. He said “So I never had a really point guard like that [Westbrook]. You know, I never had a point guard.” I thought the second sentence was a repeat of the first, just incomplete. But repeated on its own, it became an insult to every point guard he ever played with on the Jazz.

      • MyKroberts permalink
        March 30, 2015 7:14 am

        If you were going to look at just one example maybe I could buy that but having seen the whole thing there is no way he was not trying to stick it to his old team. All my friends who watch NBA (but arent Jazz fans and so dont know the background details) thought he clearly was takings shots at the team. Think you just are a bit biased on this one.

  3. modernagejazz permalink
    March 30, 2015 1:15 am

    I think the Thunder probably do a few things better than the Jazz, and my biggest concern would be that there may actually be relevant stuff the Jazz could improve on among the things he didn’t say. The things he said were mostly vitriol (the fact he said them very composed and in a light mood doesn’t really change that, IHMO) and are not really helpful though.

    For instance “…I don’t wanna make no comments on them, but I think, you know, when I, after I went to OKC, then I was like, “Oh man, this is how NBA team is.”” There’s stuff he didn’t explain in there and I’d be very interested in knowing about it.

    • March 30, 2015 7:34 am

      I wondered about this too. I wanna know and wish he’d been prompted to elaborate.

  4. Marktsmith permalink
    March 30, 2015 1:36 am

    It would have been interesting to see to see what would have happened had Kanter saved his comments for post game. I wasn’t too upset by anything he said as a fan, however if I was his teammate I would have had Booker’s reaction, essentially “GTFO if you don’t want to be a part of what we’re building.” I realize Ingles is much more a professional, but compare Joe’s comments from last week to Kanter’s, whose has more credence? I realize Joe can only speak to the Quinn year, but that’s the team Kanter wanted away from.

  5. cubsmodano permalink
    March 30, 2015 2:55 am

    I think Kanter had a lot of legitimate gripes over his time here. I’d also agree that the Jazz media creates/compounds a lot of the drama with former players.

    Unfortunately, Enes is airing his grievances now by basically trashing the team and city (some of which I believe is passive but certainly intentional). He is welcome to be honest in answering those questions, but now he has to also deal with being a hated guy to a lot of Jazz fans.

    Instead of going the “let’s be friends route” in this breakup, he’s shading closer to throwing your ex’s belongings on the lawn for all to see. Jazz fans/Jazz media aren’t going to be the bigger person here.

    (I’m reminded of Nada Surf’s song, “Popular” – “Even if you’ve only been together a short time, and it wasn’t all that serious, there’s still a feeling of rejection when somebody says they prefer the company of others to your exclusive company.”)

  6. MyKroberts permalink
    March 30, 2015 3:05 am

    If it was one or two things that sounded like subtle digs at the Jazz I would be more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. You have to be really blinded by your loyalty to him to not read between the lines on this one. Yea he was laughing – at lines like the only thing he misses about Utah is the mountains. I did watch the whole thing and he is clearly intentional about what he is doing – he knew the boos would be coming and egged the crowd on. I don’t really get too much into the sports hate thing so i don’t have too much of a grudge against Kanter – he is just an immature kid in my eyes going overboard now that he can speak out against his old team which kept him muzzled all those years.

  7. MyKroberts permalink
    March 30, 2015 3:08 am

    Also have to agree with you though that Jazz media is highly unprofessional (Locke Rigby and PJ all rub me the wrong way) – Locke especially seems to hold grudges. Even after the game last night you could tell how giddy he was and trying to bait Boone into talking trash but Boone is too classy for that.

  8. russellkanning permalink
    March 30, 2015 3:58 am

    Just because OKC has won quite a bit lately, I would not portray them as how an NBA team should be run. They just had many high draft picks for a few years. To me they seem like they are slowly falling apart from their Finals year. I am not a Westbrook fan nor a fan of their offense.
    I watched the OKC tv feed last night. I liked their announcers. It was kinda sad that the fans booed Kanter so much. I always liked Kanter. It did seem like he looked for his numbers, so he will be a good fit with Westbrook. But considering the social media censorship and the past coaching, we shouldn’t be surprised.
    I love our current players, coaches, and such.
    Maybe we can have a great rivalry with OKC for a while. :)

  9. March 30, 2015 5:43 am

    I think the nail in the coffin for me as far as Kanter is concerned were his post game comments. Said “they are not a good basketball team” and “We can’t let a team that is not even in a playoff spot come out and beat us like that.”

    • March 30, 2015 5:50 am

      Yeah, the post-game quotes were another story.

    • russellkanning permalink
      March 31, 2015 10:07 am

      yea that is messed up

  10. March 30, 2015 7:46 am

    Appreciate your position on this moni, even if I don’t agree with parts of it. Very easy to get caught up in the hate in times like these!

  11. March 30, 2015 10:13 am

    I can see how the last part of this post comes off as a defense of Kanter, but the larger point I was trying to make (which probably got lost) was I hate seeing the pointed questions aimed at getting a specific type of response, and then creating an uproar over it. The line of questioning could have ended with “What didn’t you like about the situation with the Jazz?,” which ended with Kanter expressing frustrations but concluding with “worked out well for both sides, happy for both sides.” The next few questions, [What was the biggest frustration over the three-and-a-half years? / Everybody was a winner, but were more of the frustrations on the court? Off the court? / So then would you consider your experience with Utah a nightmare?] were, IMO, unnecessary.

    Kanter does have a history of “immature” moments, e.g. comments/tweets on the Turkish national team, and further digs at the Jazz after the game.

    You know what would have sent the loudest message that Kanter was being immature yesterday? Letting his comments stand on their own and not responding at all. Especially not Jazz-owned radio people responding with insults and name-calling.

    The night should have been about getting a win for Hot Rod. Or even getting a win for Jerry Sloan’s birthday. Or even the team coming together to put an end to a four-game losing streak. I feel like it would have been, without these people fanning the flames. Instead, this good win was completely about “we were pissed off, he disrespected us and we wanted to kick his ass.”

    At the end of the day, I appreciate y’all for disagreeing with me in a civil and rational way absent of insults and name-calling. :)

    • March 30, 2015 10:41 am

      Jazz fans, media and staffers alike have invested loads of resources in Enes, whether that’s emotion, time, encouragement… whatever. Then they see him say that he wants out and he’s traded for a bag of marbles, only to see him pick up his play noticably in OKC… that obviously sucks from a Jazz point of view. He was one of the pieces we got in return for Deron, another moment of emotional turmoil for fans et al.

      So once Enes said what he did, everyone feeling crappy about his departure is champing at the bit to tear him apart/make him the villain – the whole narrative goes some ways to validating the FO’s decision to ship him at all costs, allows fans to vent a lot of frustration, chaos ensues,

      It’s pretty rare that sports fans are measured and thoughtful in these sorts of situations, so their response was probably never going to be different, but it’s interesting to read about how the radio guys went at him and fanned the flames.

      After reading Locke’s tweets on the matter I was excited to listen to his postmatch podcast, but it doesn’t seem to be available. Did you hear it live?

      • March 30, 2015 1:37 pm

        Not sure if this is what you’re looking for (delete the spaces in the url):

        http: //

    • March 30, 2015 10:42 am

      Love this comment Moni. Very well said. I was not bugged by his comments but I can understand why others might be, especially those part of the organization, players etc.

      I think you said it perfectly that the loudest message that could have been sent was to let Kanter’s comments stand on their own. I would have liked for the Jazz radio etc to take the high road with a former player. I wonder when they’ll change and do that.

      I would have them much rather won for Hot Rod and Jerry. I understand getting motivated from comments but it really shouldn’t have been about that. And like you said who knows what the players actually heard from the Kanter interview, I doubt many listened to it. They probably heard soundbites or saw tweets etc.

      I am glad we won. I can only hope the team stays motivated even when they are not playing Kanter.

  12. Ashley permalink
    March 30, 2015 11:38 am

    I listened to the interview and wondered if he was talking about his frustrations when he said he didn’t bring it every night. As in, he was frustrated the whole time he was here but he didn’t bring that frustration onto the court. Or that he wasn’t frustrated every day but it was an underlying thing for all 3.5 years. Probably part of what he was trying to say was lost in translation. Just a thought.

    That being said, I thought his comments were ill- advised and unnecessary.

    Thanks for all the work you do on this blog by the way!

    • March 30, 2015 1:39 pm

      Great point! Goes to show how much room there is for interpretation and none of us are privy to what he meant by that particular comment. Thanks for reading :)

  13. Chisel McSue permalink
    March 30, 2015 12:21 pm

    Good pov, moni. While i bear no ill will nor do i take sides in kanter vs jazz fo issue, i do however respect and appreciate kanter’s honesty despite english not being his first language. Why? I looooove gordon’s response. I love nba feud, anything that can sparks our team’s killer instinct. I hated how today’s nba became ‘let’s all be buddies and say only anything nice about each other’.

    Moar drama moar exciting nba :)

    • russellkanning permalink
      March 31, 2015 10:08 am

      as good as yelling at the team to “wake up” :)

  14. Paul Johnson permalink
    March 30, 2015 9:33 pm

    I first read about Enes’ comments on SLC Dunk, and got all riled up before I actually listened to the sound byte. After listening to the sound byte, I felt much the same as Moni.

    However, it was interesting what Enes said about having a point guard. I pretty much have to agree with him about that. His first point guard was Devin Harris, who was rehabbing from the horrible experience of being on that bad Nets team (look what that same experience has done to D-Will). Next, we had Mo Williams (MOLO) and Jamaal Tinsley on his last legs. Then we had rookie Trey Burke, JLIII and Diante Garrett (and probably Garrett played the best–and he’s out of the league). Then Trey Burke, year 2, and rookie Exum. I think we could all see some friction between Burke and Kanter this season, as Burke tried to blame Kanter for his own poor defense.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that the Jazz have been covering up for how terrible Ty Corbin was in communicating with his players. First the team exiled Raja Bell (effectively ending his career) for making some comments at locker room clean out about his poor communication with Ty Corbin. CJ Miles also made similar comments in that same locker room clean out, and the Jazz basically treated him like “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.” Next, Millsap didn’t say anything, but let his feet do his talking, taking a worse deal in free agency than the Jazz offered him in an extension. Hayward then refused to sign an extension, and then tried to make a run at going to Charlotte–with undertones of not being that happy with the Jazz. Also, Rudy Gobert and Kanter made comments at locker room clean out about how they expected to be playing more minutes (over guys who weren’t better than them who were not going to be with the team long term) as the team was rebuilding and supposedly developing its young players. Now the whole Kanter thing–both at the time of the trade demand, and on Saturday.

    I still think Kanter, despite his defensive weaknesses, could have helped the Jazz be a better team had the Jazz not messed up his development and his relationship with the Jazz. The player I saw play against the Jazz on Saturday night could be an asset for this team.

    It’s great that the Jazz are coming out the middle ages in how they treat this generation of players. Corbin apparently brought with him the worst vestiges of the Sloan regime on how you treat rookies–almost the equivalent of the old NCAA rule of not allowing freshmen players to play in varsity games. Much like how rookies were treated when Sloan came into the NBA back in the 60’s–he kind of had a “sink-or-swim maggot” mentality with young players, and Corbin seemed to have the same attitude. That doesn’t really work any more whereas players come into the NBA so young, and they need major development to reach their potential. I think teams with coaches who continue to have that attitude are going to struggle in today’s NBA.

    • Paul Johnson permalink
      March 30, 2015 9:37 pm

      Oh, and I forgot to include the recent comments by Derrick Favors–who avoids saying anything bad about anyone–how Corbin didn’t really pay much attention to the young players, and how it is so different with Quinn Snyder.

  15. Jimmy permalink
    March 30, 2015 9:42 pm

    We’ll always have the pilates pic:

    And I agree with you that Kanter had a lot of reasons to be frustrated including playing time, being treated like a kid (because he was a young player and because of his fun-loving attitude,) being silenced on Twitter and asked to be a team ambassador, not just a player. It just wasn’t a fit with his personality. I’m happy for him that he’s ended up on a team with some swagger. He deserves it.

    Also, he deserves to lose to us forever. :D

  16. The Jorge permalink
    March 31, 2015 7:00 am

    Good, balanced write-up Moni. I was peeved when I read the comments on ESPN at first, but after watching the game and actually hearing the interview, it does seem that it was reporter-baiting at its finest. I still think he could have avoided any controversy and just didn’t care. His reaction to the fans throughout the game and his will to get revenge in it showed that to me. The crowd booed him throughout, but he welcomed it. I think he knew what he was doing and didn’t hold back, instead taking the bait.
    I thought the fans were mostly good to great to him while he was here and giving effort. A mixed crowd definitely, but we were patient with him. Mountains, however, is all he misses. Disappointing.


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