Boston’s Enes Kanter understands trying to impact a social justice cause from a distance.
The Turkish native this week celebrated his father being released from prison after seven years and having a travel ban lifted. Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey’s president — and dictator — Recep Erdoğan, and his parents paid the price for that. Kanter, himself, cannot return home, or he would be arrested and jailed himself.
It is with that background Kanter — on his Enes Kanter Show podcast — encouraged players to go to Orlando and use that platform to promote the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I understand about the social justice … you’re going to be in Orlando. The whole world is going to be focusing on you, right? You can make a huge difference. All the microphones will be on your face, so you can get your message out. Whatever you want to talk about, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ freedom, justice, democracy. Whatever you want to talk about, the whole world will be listening to you.
“If you’re really about that life, go to the playoffs and take that money, and donate it back to ‘Black Lives Matter Foundation’ or just give back to the community. Don’t just say stuff.”
There is an ongoing debate among players about the best course of action. Some players, such as Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard, see a return to play as a distraction from the movement that will take the spotlight away from it. Other players echo what Kanter is saying, that there are ways to use the platform provided in Orlando to keep BLM and social justice in people’s faces.
Each player is going to have to make a personal choice on playing in Orlando, one that also weighs health concerns, being away from family, serious financial issues, and more. We know where Kanter comes down on all of this.