Enes Kanter Returns to Salt Lake City
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.