With his son’s immediate-term basketball future at stake, Dr. Mehmet Kanter took his grievances about Fenerbahçe Ülker to American media last week. This morning, Fenerbahçe, in the person of general manager Nedim Karakas, fired back at prospective University of Kentucky big man Enes Kanter’s dad in the sports pages of this morning’s New York Times.
In an exclusive to Sporting News, Dr. Kanter last week complained that Turkish basketball and Fenerbahçe officials are getting in Enes’ way because “they are trying to set an example with my son to coming generations in Turkey, so they can control and use the talent and youth any way they like to.”
As the man who blew the whistle on Kanter’s potential NCAA eligibility problem last month when he claimed Kanter had been paid at least $100,000 by the club for playing, Karakas took issue with several of Dr. Kanter’s claims.
While Dr. Kanter claimed that he “[tried] everything to keep my son amateur and [kept] meticulous records of all the expenses knowing someday I may be asked [to] fully cooperate with the NCAA,” Karakas stated in stark contrast that Dr. Kanter “himself was the one to negotiate the terms of his son’s salary.”
Interestingly, though money is at the heart of the eligibility problem not only in that Kanter’s status as an amateur is threatened but also because Fenerbahçe could yet earn a whopping transfer free from any professional club who might want just want one seriously impressive 6’10” 18-year-old, both sides in the debate are claiming money is no object.
Reads the Sporting News piece in part:
“Dr. Kanter said Enes was offered the chance to play for the Turkey national team in the recent FIBA World Championships in his home country, but declined because it would have required him to miss nearly a month of classes at UK and effectively rendered him academically ineligible to compete in the 2010-11 season.
“As a result of their runner-up finish in the World Championships, members of the Turkish team shared an $18 million bonus pool funded by the government and each player was given a condominium by a private firm.
“Multiple sources have pointed to Kanter’s willingness to pass on the national team opportunity – and that sort of reward – as evidence he intends to remain an amateur and is committed to Kentucky at this point in his development.”
The Times piece has Karakas saying that Fenerbahçe Ülker “was wealthy enough that it did not need the fee, which European basketball observers estimated at less than $500,000. Karakas said the club has an annual income of $275 million and is building a sports center in Istanbul that will cost more than $300 million.”
And while Wildcats head coach John Calipari cracked that Fenerbahçe had “four million good reasons” to keep Kanter out of University of Kentucky basketball, Karakas shot back “$3 million or $4 million would not mean that much. So before he talks to press, I would advise Coach Calipari to learn more about the people and/or institutions he [would] brag about.”
Calipari previously told reporters that he expects word on Kanter’s eligibility sometime between this coming Friday and next Monday.