The National Basketball Association is terminating its relationship with a social media vendor after the league's official Turkish account omitted Enes Kanter, a Turkish national who is critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from social media posts.
The 26-year-old Portland Trail Blazers center is a supporter of the Gülen political movement, which the Turkish government accuses of a failed 2016 coup attempt. Kanter has since been largely scrubbed from Turkish media, and when he's mentioned, he's called a terrorist and traitor.
Kanter has played a significant role in the Trail Blazers' ongoing NBA Playoffs series against the Denver Nuggets, but the league's Turkish Twitter account did not post any of his highlights or statistics, The Washington Post reported.
The account instead translated the NBA main account's tweets, but removed any reference to Kanter, who scored 26 points in Game 1 and 15 points in Game 2 against the Nuggets.
Kanter called out the omission in Twitter, writing: "Only Turkish player out here tonight, and the official @NBA for Turkey @NBAturkiye is censoring me. They don't show blazers games in Turkey. The government controls people, this a problem. How can official NBA allow this."
“Whoever runs the official account, NBA Turkey, lives in Turkey. Look how sad this is, they can’t even put my name out there because they’re scared,” Kanter told The Washington Post. “They know if they put my name out there, they could get in trouble or they might even end up in jail.
“That shows it’s a dictatorship. That shows there’s no freedom of speech in Turkey. It’s crazy. Basketball reporters in Turkey cannot even say my name because they will all be in trouble.”
The NBA’s deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, Mark Tatum, said the Turkish account was managed by a local vendor and that relationship is being severed.
“Fans in Turkey can watch all playoff games featuring Enes Kanter and the Portland Trail Blazers on NBA League Pass and NBA TV International," Tatum said in a statement tweeted by Associated Press basketball writer Tim Reynolds. "The NBA Turkey Twitter account was managed by a local vendor & we are terminating that relationship.”