Turkish NBA fans hoping to catch the Western Conference Finals won’t be able to do so on network TV. According to the schedule for the NBA’s official broadcaster in Turkey, the network S Sport will only carry the Eastern Conference Finals after previously showing nearly every other playoff series thus far. Today a rep for the network confirmed to Reuters that it won’t show any games involving the Portland Trail Blazers because of center Enes Kanter.
“I can say clearly that we will not be broadcasting the Warriors-Blazers series,” S Sport commentator Omer Sarac told Reuters. “Furthermore, if Portland makes it to the finals, (that) will not be broadcast either ... This situation is not about us, but it is what it is.”
The schedule shows that S Sport hasn’t broadcast any Blazers games all postseason, though they have been available with a League Pass or NBATV subscription. Earlier this postseason, the NBA ditched the Twitter vendor it worked with in Turkey after the account deliberately omitted him from a game recap tweet.
Kanter has long been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government, and Turkish authorities have been trying to extradite and arrest Kanter on charges of supporting a terrorist organization. In addition to criticizing Erdoğan, Kanter is a supporter of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who the Erdoğan government blamed for a failed coup in 2016. Kanter was briefly arrested in Romania in 2017 after the Turkish embassy revoked his passport, and the government has also gone after his family. He stayed home from two trips to London this year out of fear for his life.
Kanter, defiant as ever, mocked Erdoğan over the censorship and called him a dictator twice.