Enes Kanter confirms he'll play in Toronto despite Turkish government threats


Enes Kanter will join the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, after all.

The Celtics play in Toronto against the Raptors on Wednesday, which posed a unique problem for Kanter: The Turkey native is an outspoken critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and in 2017, the Turkish government put Kanter's name on an international arrest list that deterred him from traveling outside the United States for fear of persecution.

Since Toronto is in Canada, many wondered whether Kanter would make the trip, considering he's received continued threats from the Turkish government and still needs a visa to travel outside the country. (He isn't eligible to become a U.S. citizen until 2021.)

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But in an op-ed piece Monday for Canada's The Globe and Mail, Kanter wrote he plans to travel with the Celtics for Wednesday's game.

Kanter also confirmed his travel plans with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg.

"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," Kanter wrote. "And, on Christmas night, I will play in my first game outside the U.S. in years when I take the court against the Raptors."

Kanter actually has made three trips to Toronto since 2016 -- most recently in Nov. 2018 with the New York Knicks -- but missed the Knicks' 2018 game in Toronto and the Portland Trail Blazers' March 2019 game in Toronto due to safety concerns.

Kanter's Celtics teammates will be glad he's coming along, considering Boston already is without big men Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier due to injury.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which tips off Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 12 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

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