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Enes Kanter, amid travel issues, to play in Celtics-Raptors on Christmas in Toronto

Enes Kanter

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 5: Boston Celtics (L to R) Enes Kanter, Brad Stevens, and Daniel Theis talk with Janel at Boston Children’s Hospital December 5, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images for Boston Children’s Hospital)

Getty Images for Boston Children

Enes Kanter – an outspoken critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – has avoided international travel in fear of repercussions pushed by Turkey.

That put a damper on the Celtics-Raptors Christmas game in Toronto. It seemed Kanter could get left in Boston.

Kanter in The Globe and Mail:

Turkey is so powerful and strategically located that there is not much the world can do to prevent this once semi-democratic country from sliding into autocracy. Still, the Western world shouldn’t let Mr. Erdogan harass dissidents that have fled to seek refuge. It is the least it can do.

Canada sets a great example. The country’s hospitality has attracted thousands of highly-educated Turkish refugees, some of them former members of the judiciary, journalists, business people and university professors. It is a spectacular display of solidarity with people who need help, a demonstration of Canada’s welcome attitudes and core values. I can’t thank the Canadian government enough for letting refugees from my home country survive here and continue practising their professions.

I also want to thank Canada for another reason. I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there. And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game as a Celtic outside the U.S. when I take the court against the Raptors.

This is great news. Kanter exercising his freedom of speech shouldn’t limit his freedom of movement.

It also helps the Celtics, who get another big center to use against Toronto. With Marc Gasol injured, Toronto could have trouble matching up and keeping Kanter from offensively rebounding and scoring inside. However, the Raptors can attack Kanter on the other end.

This is also a noteworthy precedent if Boston and Toronto meet in the playoffs.