BOSTON (CBS) — Enes Kanter will make the trip to Toronto and suit up for the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day.
An NBA player getting the OK for a trip to Canada really shouldn’t be breaking news, but it is in Kanter’s case. International travel hasn’t been easy for the Turkish center, who had been an outspoken proponent of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter’s activism and outspoken nature against Erdogan has led to numerous death threats, a kidnapping attempt, and having his Turkish passport revoked. There is even an international arrest warrant out for Kanter, with the Turkish government accusing him of terrorism, so traveling over the border has been a problem. He missed a game in London last year due to these issues.
So there was some doubt whether or not Kanter would be able to join his Celtics teammates for their Christmas Day game in Toronto. But on Monday, in an op-ed in The Globe And Mail, Kanter detailed the hurdles he’s had to overcome to receive clearance for the game, thanking Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Senator Ed Markey, among many others, for clearing the way for him to play on Christmas Day.
“I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there. And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game outside the U.S. in years when I take the court against the Raptors,” wrote Kanter.
I’m Free 🇨🇦
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) December 23, 2019
Kanter will never cool on his activism, and getting clearance to travel to Canada is another big victory for the C’s center. It’s also pretty important for the Celtics on a basketball front, as they’re dealing with a slew of injuries in their frontcourt. With Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier both sidelined, Kanter, Daniel Theis and Tacko Fall are the only true centers at Brad Stevens’ disposal at the moment.
Kanter has put together a solid stretch for Boston recently, corralling 44 rebounds over his last three games, adding 22 points in that span. For the season, Kanter is averaging 7.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for Boston.