Warriors-Blazers won't air on Turkish network due to Enes Kanter's criticism

Warriors-Blazers won't air on Turkish network due to Enes Kanter's criticism

Basketball is a global sport.

Beginning Tuesday, millions of people around the world will gather to watch Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers try to dethrone the two-time defending champion Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Basketball fans in Turkey, however, won't be able to watch the Dame vs. Goliath showdown on S Sport, the main broadcaster on NBA games in Turkey.

Blazers center Enes Kanter, who is from Turkey, has been critical of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and describes himself as a close ally of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has been accused of being part of a failed coup attempt in 2016, something he denies having involvement in.

The Turkish government has charged Kanter with being part of a terrorist group and demanded he is extradited from the United States. Kanter has denied that he has any involvement in a terrorist group and just advocates for a free and democratic Turkey.

As such, S Sport has ignored Kanter's games since last season and will not be airing the Western Conference finals or the NBA Finals should the Blazers advance, according to Reuters.

Basketball fans in Turkey will still be able to watch the Eastern Conference finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. They also can watch both the Western Conference finals and Eastern Conference finals with an NBA TV subscription and online via NBA League Pass.

Kanter responded to the news with an Instagram post Tuesday.

It's a shame that NBA fans in Turkey might not get to watch what promises to be an electrifying showdown between the Warriors and Blazers.

The two teams split their four-game series during the regular season, and with Kevin Durant missing Game 1 and likely Game 2 with a strained right calf, the Blazers have a puncher's chance of knocking off the kings of the NBA. 

[RELATED: Dame gets shot at one last "storybook moment" in Oracle, Oakland]

While KD's injury certainly levels the playing field a bit, the Blazers still face an uphill climb to their first NBA Finals berth since 1992. Steph Curry, who was mired in a horrible shooting slump in the second round of the NBA playoffs, snapped out of his funk last Friday, scoring 33 second-half points to eliminate the Houston Rockets in six games.

Golden State showed its championship heart in eliminating the Rockets without Durant, and now they'll face a confident Blazers team that believes they will be the ones to end the dynastic run in the Bay.

At least basketball fans in Tukey will be able to watch the exciting series on NBA TV and NBA League Pass.

Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

On the day the Raptors held their championship parade, the Golden State Warriors took out a full-page ad in the Toronto Star congratulating the franchise on its first NBA title.

Classy gesture by a classy organization.

You know which franchise isn't classy? The Houston Rockets.

Shortly after Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was voted the 2019 NBA MVP on Monday night, the Rockets’ official account sent a tweet that was an attempt to congratulate The Greek Freak. Really it was just a thread trying to make the case that James Harden should have won the award.

The voting had been tabulated and the award had been handed out, yet the Rockets still we’re trying to argue for their guy. They couldn't even get a simple congratulatory tweet right.

This seems par for the course coming from a franchise that cried for a "fair chance" during the second-round playoff series with the Warriors and sent a memo to the NBA claiming the refs cost them the NBA title in 2018.

Oh, and let's not forget about owner Tilman Fertitta's epic rant after the Rockets' Game 6 loss to the Warriors, in which he said his team should have cut the Warriors’ throats in Game 5 when Kevin Durant suffered a strained right calf.

[RELATED: CP3 refutes trade request rumors]

Considering how much losing the Rockets have done over the last few years, it's surprising they haven't figured out how to lose with class.

This should have been Giannis' night. Instead, the Rockets again tried to make it about themselves.

Rookie Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for the Warriors, NBA


Rookie Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for the Warriors, NBA

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have a timetable for the development of Alen Smailagic that seems reasonable for the 18-year-old rookie from Serbia.

Give him two years, and maybe he’ll be ready.

But if you bring that timetable to Smailagic, he pounces and swats it into the fourth row.

“I don’t think so, that it’s going to take me two or three or four years,” he said Monday after a news conference introducing the team’s rookies. “I think I’m going to do good this year. I already told them that I don’t want to just wear the jersey. I really want to play.”

He gets points for confidence. Smailagic (pronounced Smile-a-GEECH) sees the Warriors trying to fill a roster with a plethora of openings and visualizes himself pulling on his jersey, No. 6, and jogging onto the floor at Chase Center next October.

The Warriors, after all, could use a skilled 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward/center that plays hard and has a high basketball IQ. Smailagic flashed those assets last season, while playing 818 minutes, spread out over 47 games, for the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

That that he accomplished that as the youngest player in G League history persuaded the NBA Warriors, fearing another team may come after their secret stash, to move up and use the first of two second-round picks (39th overall) to select him. Because Smailagic was 17 at the time of the 2018 NBA Draft, he was ineligible to be chosen. To play pro ball in America, the G League was his only option.

“They didn’t disrespect me because of my age,” Smailagic said of his experience in Santa Cruz. “They really wanted me to play and they reacted to me like I’m a professional.”

Though Smailagic was projected to go late in the second round, somewhere between pick Nos. 50 and 60, the Warriors heard enough from Santa Cruz coach Aaron Miles and general manager Kent Lacob that they didn’t want to risk losing him.

Indeed, there is a firm belief within the organization that he has considerable potential, perhaps enough to be a starter, if not a true impact player. That potential, however, is years away.

“He’s going to be a player in the league,” one Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday. “He can be really good if his body continues to mature. There is no question about his desire or his skill.

“But I think he’s a couple years away.”

If Smailagic can make the roster as a two-way player -- a distinct possibility -- that would be a triumph for someone much more uncertain about his command of English than his game, and whose previous experience was in the European junior leagues.

Smailagic, nicknamed Smiley for obvious reasons, says as he grew and gravitated toward basketball, he studied Warriors superstar Kevin Durant -- “He’s really tall and he can jump, he can dribble, he can shoot. He can do everything” -- and also Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica, another native of Serbia.

[RELATED: Warriors' Jordan Poole ready to capitalize on opportunity]

Asked if he cared to pattern himself after Durant or Bjelica or anyone else, Smailagic wasted no time replying.

“No. I didn’t have that kind of mindset, because I want to play how I play.”