The Portland Trail Blazers still need to knock off the Golden State Warriors before they can reach the NBA Finals but if they do, they may need Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support to ensure one of their top players is able to play.
Blazers center Enes Kanter has been a staunch vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him a dictator on several occasions. Kanter’s passport has been revoked and a warrant was placed for his arrest in Turkey back in January.
Amid fears that Interpol could detain and deport Kanter to Turkey, Oregon senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to Trudeau, asking him to guarantee Kanter’s safety if the Blazers face off against the Toronto Raptors in this year’s NBA Finals.
“I ask your government to facilitate Mr. Kanter's safe passage to and from Canada should the Portland Trail Blazers play the Toronto Raptors in Toronto, Canada, in the upcoming NBA Finals," Wyden wrote, via ESPN’s Royce Young. "I also urge your government to state publicly that it will not comply with any Interpol red notice meant to interfere with Mr. Kanter's livelihood and to intimidate him and his family back in Turkey."
Kanter is eligible to become an American citizen in 2021.
“I have instructed my staff to work with our administration to ensure that Mr. Kanter could travel safely to Canada and return unimpeded in the event of a Portland-Toronto NBA series," Wyden wrote. "I urge your government to ensure the same with respect to Mr. Kanter's ability to enter Canada, play in Canada, and then return safely and expeditiously to the United States.”
Kanter said Trudeau is a “good leader” and is confident that the prime minister will be able to help him as the playoffs march on. However, the Blazers’ center clearly outlined his concerns despite Wyden and Trudeau’s best efforts.
"On another note, even if Senator Wyden and PM Trudeau does their best, Dictator Erdogan will try using/abusing all his powers to manipulate red notice system through Interpol," Kanter texted Young. "As you know, I am a law abiding citizen both in Turkey and here in the U.S. — I never broke a single law in my life, didn't even have a parking ticket, but Turkish government cancels my passport ... WHY? it's simply because I'm an outspoken critic of Dictator Erdogan. So, Erdogan might push all his chances through Interpol, which I believe he tries abusing it.”
It seems unlikely that the Blazers will be able to defeat the Warriors but if they advance to the Finals, along with the Raptors upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks, Trudeau will be called upon to help Toronto’s opponent as this matter transcends the parameters of sports.
More NBA coverage from Yahoo Sports