U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for protection for Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, should the Blazers and the Toronto Raptors meet in the NBA finals.
Kanter, a Turkish national, has been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That criticism has reportedly led to Turkey issuing a warrant for his arrest through Interpol, the international police agency.
Earlier this season, when he played for the New York Knicks, Kanter skipped a game in London because he feared he might be arrested there. After joining the Blazers, he also skipped a game in Toronto for the same reason.
Now, as the Blazers begin play against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals and the Toronto Raptors begin the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, there is a real possibility that Kanter's inability to travel to Canada could become a factor for the Blazers, who are already playing without their starting center, the injured Jusuf Nurkic.
Reality check: The Blazers will face a difficult battle to beat the defending champion Warriors and Toronto is the underdog in its series against Milwaukee. But Wyden, a diehard Blazer fan, is leaving nothing to chance.
"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 to Trudeau. "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."
Tonight's game is in Oakland at 6 pm and will be televised on ESPN.