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E:60 Goes To Turkey To Tell Enes Kanter’s Story

Producer Nicole Noren on embattled NBA star: "He is widely held up as a human rights defender in America, but in Turkey, no one wanted to even say his name."

This Sunday E:60 (9 a.m. ET) tells the full story of Enes Kanter, the Portland Trail Blazer whose native country of Turkey has identified him as a terrorist and issued an international warrant for his arrest.

Reporter Jeremy Schaap and producer Nicole Noren traveled to Turkey to get the government’s side of the story. For the first time Hedo Turkoglu, a former NBA star and current advisor to the Turkish President, speaks on camera.

“Entering Turkey as a visiting journalist isn’t a simple endeavor,” said Noren. “In order to obtain a press card, we had to first acquire letters from both the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C., and the American Embassy in Ankara, Turkey’s capital.”

Noren said luckily the Turkish government was eager to tell its side of the story.

“Once Turkoglu agreed to the interview,” she said, “we were given our press cards and allowed to go to Turkey as working journalists for four days in February.

“The most surprising aspect of this story to me was the drastically different way Enes Kanter is regarded in America versus his home country. He is widely held up as a human rights defender in America, but in Turkey, no one wanted to even say his name,” Noren said. “As you’ll see in Schaap’s interview with Turkoglu, even though he was once Kanter’s teammate on the National team, he was visibly uncomfortable discussing Kanter.”

According to Noren, Turkoglu wasn’t the only person who was uncomfortable speaking publicly about Kanter.

“It was clear to us that many people, including those who don’t support [Turkish President] Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have very complicated opinions about Kanter. And that’s because Kanter’s spiritual mentor, Fethullah Gulen, is a polarizing figure in Turkey,” Noren said. “Kanter is arguably the most well-known Turkish NBA player in the world right now, but there are no billboards of him selling shoes. No advertisements on buses. In fact, it was only on our last morning in town, the day after the Feb. 7. NBA trade deadline, when we finally saw a mention of him. It was a small headline in the Daily Sabah, a newspaper often regarded as pro-government: “FETO TERRORIST ENES KANTER IS SACKED BY THE NEW YORK KNICKS.”

When Jeremy Schaap (foreground) visited Enes Kanter earlier this year, Kanter was still a member of the New York Knicks. He’s now a Portland Trail Blazer. (Nicole Noren/ESPN)_

https://twitter.com/E60/status/1102613518484996096

– Molly Mita


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4. ESPN’s coverage of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi will begin Thursday, March 14, with a live three-hour special on ESPNEWS highlighting memorable moments from the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi Opening Ceremony. SportsCenter’s Kevin Negandhi will host ESPN’s coverage of the Opening Ceremony, as well as its nightly studio programming throughout the Games.

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