Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter’s Portland Trail Blazers reached the NBA’s Western Conference finals, which start on Tuesday, but for the first time the series will not be widely televised in Turkey, where Kanter is accused of having terrorist links, Reuters reported.
S Sport, the main TV broadcaster of National Basketball Association games in Turkey, will not show the conference final between the Trail Blazers and defending champion Golden State Warriors, to keep Kanter off Turkish television screens, the company and two of its commentators confirmed on Tuesday.
Turkey’s broadcasters have ignored Kanter’s games since last year, when he was indicted by a Turkish court. That includes Sunday, when the 26-year-old center scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a thrilling four-point victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The victory sent Portland to the best-of-seven-games conference final, one step from the league final, which would also be banned if Kanter is playing. The full NBA playoffs have been televised in Turkey since broadcasts began in the 1990s.
“I can say clearly that we will not be broadcasting the Warriors-Blazers series,” S Sport commentator Ömer Saraç 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.”
Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and describes himself as a close ally of US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for a failed coup in July 2016. Gülen has denied any involvement.