Enes Kanter The Catalyzer


Mar 28, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter (34) reacts to being booed by Utah Jazz fans during his introduction prior to the game at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 94-89. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz were floundering, losers of four straight games. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in a vicious playoff fight for the final spot in the West, clinging to a small lead over the New Orleans Pelicans. Then along comes Enes Kanter and throws a wrench into everything.

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Thunder PR is relatively relaxed when it comes to comments by their superstars, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. They’re superstars, they get latitude when it comes to language and trash talk. Players like that have earned the right.

Players like Enes Kanter have not, although he seems to think he has, flapping his lips to media in pregame, ultimately playing catalyst to his former team. The NBA is not the WWE. Outcomes are not scripted with drama written in. Drama is organic in basketball, and there was enough of it without Kanter throwing gasoline on the fire.

"“Having been with five teams in recent years, this is one of the more professional, well-run, well-supported, high-character organizations that I’ve been a part of,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some good ones, and this is one of the best.”–Quin Snyder, via KSL.com"

OKC coach Scott Brooks said afterward that Kanter’s comments were “something that will be addressed.” Kind of hard to ignore ’em when you’re scrapping for a spot in the West and your healthy No. 2 player may have just cost you a precious win.

Enes Kanter as The UnderKanter

Trevor Booker was brought in to add a dose of nasty to a Utah Jazz team that had become a little soft in the middle, something that didn’t sit well with fans who were accustomed to the likes of Karl Malone and John Stockton, who took no guff from anyone when it came to the court.

As Jazz players weighed in after the battle, they wouldn’t even invoke Enes Kanter’s name, as if it would conjure up some demon, a diss in itself in response the disrespect the big Turk had heaped on Utah, the Jazz organization, it’s players and fans earlier in the day.

When Booker was asked about Kanter he motioned dismissively over his shoulder, “Oh, you mean him?” 

"“I don’t know how personal it was for the other guys, but I definitely wanted to kick his butt. We know what we have here. We’re glad he’s not a part of it.Forget what he says. He got his stats, but as always, took the L.”–Trevor Booker"

Another dose of nasty is provided by Rudy Gobert, who reportedly has a temper that always seems to be boiling just beneath his skin, one he channels on the basketball court rather than in media sessions before or after.

Gobert likes to let his play do most of the talking, but he’s not beyond taking a little shot Kevin Garnett style.

Disrespect these Jazz and they’ll take it right at you.

"“It just pumped us up. He wanted to show he was better than me, so I had to have the team ready. For me the most important (thing) was to win.That was a great feeling, to be honest, to see the crowd so involved, and all my teammates involved. (We) really take pride defensively, not giving anything easy.Of course, that was icing on the cake when he said that, and I think everybody got a little more motivated before the game.”–Rudy Gobert"

Utah played extra physical, taking the matter to the heart of the Thunder defense all night long. Dante Exum even ventured into the paint a few times on offense and Trey Burke went to the free throw line seven times.

"“We started competing at a higher level. We took this game personal.If I was to guess what a playoff game felt like, it felt like one. The crowd was amazing. The times we needed them most they came through and helped us finish the game.I think as a team we kinda felt disrespected. We didn’t want to feed into it in the media or anything, but we wanted to go out there and leave it all out there on the court.”"

Trey Burke made “a conscious effort” to go right at Enes Kanter, blowing by his olé defense repeatedly.

"“We fought for 48 minutes. We had a chip on our shoulder coming into this game.We all felt disrespected so we went out there and let it be known.”–Trey Burke"

Gordon Hayward seemed in disbelief that Enes Kanter could have been so brash.

"“We really fought tonight. We had a little extra incentive.(Gordon chuckles)Yeah, I mean, it’s uh… man, I mean the comments that, uh, the former player on our team made were what he felt like, and if he wants to say those things he can. I think it kind of pissed us all off. But honestly, it just fueled the fire for us.The fans were awesome tonight too. I think it fueled the fire for them too. They obviously heard it.It felt, definitely, a little different tonight. We were just so fired up about the former player’s comments.”–Gordon Hayward"

The Thunder’s defensive rating since Enes Kanter began starting in OKC has gone from 100.7 to 106.8 (the higher the number, the worse the defensive rating).

"He might as well have come out to a fog machine and some Undertaker music while flexing his muscles. As a kid, Enes Kanter had dreams of becoming a professional WWE wrestler.Instead of focusing on a team that was one of the best defensive teams since the All-Star break. Instead of putting the team first and worrying about the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot, Kanter did what all immature players who’ve never been there before do. He made it all about him.His comments during the shoot around gave an Utah team that might have just mailed it in over the final 10 games or so of the season a reason to come out fighting.–ThunderObsessed, Kanter has some growing up to do"

"Kanter said “I don’t care if they boo me” I know Enes. Let me tell you nothing could be further from the truth. Enes more than any athlete I have ever covered is desperate to be loved.Enes Kanter “they are not a good basketball team” in post game. This actually was true when Enes played for the Jazz but is not as true since he was traded.On a personal note, I have been an Enes fan. I have known all of his warts and excused them and hoped for the better. He left himself so exposed to night that he is on his own, we have all protected him and cocooned him for the last years and were going to keep doing it but he is on his own now.–David Locke, Emptying the Noggin"

If the Thunder miss the postseason by a game, we can all look back and retroactively circle this one on the calendar.