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.
View this post on Instagram
Shameful and pathetic!!! @NBA games broadcast licensee in #Turkey: “We won’t broadcast Western Conference Finals because @Enes_Kanter plays; we also won’t broadcast should he plays for @NBA Finals” 🤦🏼♂️Everyone got scared of #DictatorErdogan and people can’t even enjoy @NBA games! DICTATOR @rterdogan
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.
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.