The Knicks' Enes Kanter Faces His Toughest Opponent: His President

It was a dramatic escalation of his longstanding criticism of Erdogan and a reflection of the way Kanter has been determined to use his fame as an athlete for political activism he considers crucial and dire.

In March, his father, Mehmet Kanter, a professor, could be sentenced to five to 10 years in prison after being accused of being a member of a group the Turkish government considers terrorist.

Kanter has a close relationship with Fethullah Gulen, a cleric who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years and whom the Turkish government has accused of masterminding a bloody coup attempt in July 2016.

That comment is likely to outrage many in Turkey; the leading coup plotters were Gulen followers who ordered tanks and planes against protesters, killing 251 people, including several soldiers and 60 police officers.

Kanter is also friends with Hakan Sukur, one of Turkey’s most famous athletes, a hero of its 2002 World Cup team and a veteran of several of Europe’s top soccer leagues.

As soon as he finished practice two days before Christmas, Kanter returned to the court dressed as an elf, complete with pointy ears, a long green tunic and a brown beard.

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