What’s the more notable detail from this SNY report: that Knicks games are apparently being blacked out in Turkey as part of the Turkish government’s ongoing hostility towards Enes Kanter; or that Enes Kanter expects the Knicks—currently in the NBA’s bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive rating—to challenge for a playoff spot?
“Let me tell you something, man, people don’t know it,” Kanter told SNY.tv. “People are saying that we’re so young, whatever. People don’t understand, if you’re young, that means we got fresh legs. We got a lot of energy, we can compete. So I don’t think it’s an excuse, we can take advantage of that. Whenever we’re out there, just compete and just do our best.
“If we stay together and we play our basketball, yes I believe it” that they are a playoff team.
Before you record-scratch too hard on Kanter’s confidence, know that the Knicks have won four of five, including a 19-point thrashing of the Cavs in Cleveland, and currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference standings. Much has been made of the crummy state of the East in 2017, but bear in mind that playing in the lesser conference only earns East teams an extra win or two per season. The conference imbalance doesn’t work that way—the Knicks aren’t gonna suddenly win 50 games because the East sucks—but what it might do is allow, say, a 37-win Knicks team to stay in the playoff picture right down to the regular season finale. That’s not so unrealistic a win total for this Knicks team (especially if Kristaps Porzingis keeps putting up huge offensive numbers), and so a playoff berth isn’t that far-fetched an outcome.
But Turkish NBA fans will apparently not have the pleasure of watching any of this, according to Kanter and at least one league representative:
“Yeah, I got a lot of friends and family [who] cannot watch my games,” Kanter told SNY.tv on Thursday after practice.
“They don’t even show no New York Knicks games in Turkey because of me. Last year they didn’t show no OKC games. This year no New York games just because of me. And they ban my Twitter in Turkey, too.” One league source said it’s “obvious” the Turkish government is “avoiding showing Kanter’s games,” but that basketball fans in Turkey with NBA League Pass can “watch whatever games they want.”
Blacking out Knicks games would be the least aggressive anti-Kanter stance taken by the Turkish government in 2017: Over the summer he said he was forced to flee from Jakarta to Singapore, and then to Romania, after the Turkish government sent Indonesian secret service after him; Kanter was then detained in Romania, reportedly on orders from the Turkish embassy; an arrest warrant was issued for Kanter in Turkey later that month, labeling him a “member of a terrorist organization;” and in June Kanter’s father, who’d apparently disowned him for his anti-Erdoğan position, was briefly arrested and held by the Turkish government. A Knicks blackout is unfair, but it will at least spare Turkish NBA fans from being reminded of Joakim Noah’s contract.