Celtics center Kanter eyes politics, wrestling after NBA: reports

Washington (AFP) –


Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter renewed his criticism of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hinted at a future in politics in two interviews released Friday.

The Swiss-born Boston Celtics ace, who hopes to become a US citizen next year, spoke to The Hill newspaper and CBS News, saying he was sad to see Erdogan meet with US President Donald Trump at the White House last November.

"You're the president meeting with, I will say, dictators like Erdogan, that definitely frustrates me," Kanter told the Hill. "It makes me really sad."

Kanter, who has repeatedly ripped Erdogan for human rights abuses, told CBS he is a friend of Fethullah Gulen, an Erdogan opponent living in exile in Pennsylvania. Erdogan says Gulen organized an attempted 2017 coup, something Kanter says isn't true.

"Are you kidding me? I was with Gulen that night," Kanter told CBS.

Kanter, 27, says he has cultivated friendships with US lawmakers in nine NBA seasons with Utah, Oklahoma City, New York, Portland and Boston, having joined the Celtics last July.

And he's pondering a career in Washington once his NBA days are done.

"I've been talking to a lot of congressmen, congresswomen, presidential candidates, so I'm like, you know what, why not just become one?" Kanter told The Hill.

Also on his wish list after a brief foray into World Wrestling Entertainment last year is a wrestling show career.

"Post-NBA, this is going to sound weird but I actually want to join the WWE, become a wrestler. I just love WWE."

Kanter predicted a Celtics' victory over current NBA pace-setter Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals and an NBA Finals showdown against a Los Angeles team, the LeBron James-led Lakers or Kawhi Leonard-powered Clippers.

At 25-11, the Celtics are on a three-game losing skid and have fallen to third in the East, 6 1/2 games behind NBA win leader-Milwaukee.

Kanter has averaged 8.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists a game for the Celtics in 29 appearances this season.

Kanter, an outspoken Erdogan critic over human rights issues, had his passport revoked by the Turkish government in 2017 and was grounded in Romania, where he dubbed Erdogan "the Hitler of our century" and was stranded until the NBA worked with the US State Department to enable him to travel to New York.

"Lots of people talk about these issues. But they're either in jail or they don't have a platform," Kanter told CBS. "Just because I play in the NBA, I have this huge platform. I'm trying to use this platform to be the voice of all those innocent people who don't have one."