Life

NBA Knicks player Enes Kanter likes to take the subway and walk through Times Square alone – here's why

As a center for the New York Knicks, Enes Kanter is set to earn $18.6 million for the upcoming NBA season.

So the 26-year old can afford to take an Uber — he can afford to have a driver or take a limo, in fact. But for Kanter, New York City's subway beckoned.

"I took a subway one day, and the people in the subway were just looking at me: 'What is this 6'11" Knicks player doing in the subway?' I'm like, you know, 'I'm just taking the subway, just experiencing some something different," Kanter, who is originally from Turkey and was traded from Oklahoma City Thunder to the Knicks in 2017, tells CNBC Make It. "And it was it was an awesome experience."

Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 6, 2018.
Cameron Browne | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 6, 2018.

Indeed, in his time playing for the Knicks ("You never know when you're going to get traded again," he says) Kanter is taking care to hit all the classic New York City attractions.

"I actually go to Times Square a lot," he says of the Manhattan landmark. "It's going to sound very weird; I go through Times Square a lot, because it's a very different and weird place. There is a lot of weird people out there. And I just go and watch them.

"And then whenever I go there, of course, it becomes very crazy, because people want to take a picture, people cannot believe a Knicks player just walk around Times Square. He's like, 'Man this is unreal,' because a Knicks player walking on the Times Square just by himself! You know... it's fun."

"It's just New York stuff," says Kanter.

Indeed, when Kanter heard he was headed to New York, "I was super excited," he says.

"From the day one, I fall in love with this city, fall in love with the fans. And then they were so respectful.... They opened their arms, give me a very warm welcome.

"So that's why I feel very lucky and very blessed to play in New York," Kanter tells CNBC Make It.

New Yorkers are so respectful, Kanter says, that sometimes he is the one to prod them to take a picture with him. "Some people even like shy about even asking a picture! I'm asking, 'Hey, you want a picture?' They said, 'Yeah let's take a picture!'"

CNBC Make it spoke with Kanter on Monday in Manhattan at the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual conference of human rights activists, tech entrepreneurs and global leaders. In addition to being a professional basketball player, Kanter is a political advocate for human rights; his home country is currently suffering under an authoritarian regime.

In New York, "I just see that there is a different people from all over the world and now they come into New York and they visiting New York," he says. "I'm like ... man, I play for the city, so I shall feel really lucky and blessed."

See also: