Enes Kanter is a NBA basketball player who has inspired millions on and off the court. Currently playing for the Boston Celtics, he kindly spoke to Hadith of the Day to share his experience of this past Ramadan, life under lockdown and plans for the future.
HOTD: Salaams! Welcome to Hadith of the Day Enes and thank you for talking to us. Firstly, how did your Ramadan go?
It was different, obviously, due to the pandemic, but I am glad that I was healthy and it was a fulfilling month for me. Amid this challenging time, we needed a month of reflection and spiritual depth and Ramadan was a great opportunity. Since the NBA games were suspended, I didn’t have to fast and play games simultaneously, and it was a great blessing.
HOTD: You’re one of the most prominent Muslim NBA players and someone who is so open about his faith and adherence to it, Masha’Allah! What’s it like being a Muslim basketball player in the NBA?
I am incredibly blessed to play in franchises that have been very open, understanding and accepting of my faith and requirements that come with it, including my teammates in every team that I played and my coaches.
Our nutritionists, doctors, the front office and everyone in these teams have always made special arrangements to make sure that I can follow my diet like eating Halal and have enough time and space to pray. Regardless of whether or not we were playing at home or away, I always had the luxury to practice my religion and eat properly. I have always believed that once you have the determination to practice to the best of your ability, Allah will make it easy no matter where you are at. But it is always comforting to know that you can be as open about your religion as possible and people around you, who don’t share the same faith with you, will always embrace you.
HOTD: How did you get into professional basketball and end up signing to play in the NBA?
I started playing for Turkey’s Fenerbahce, which will always have a special place in my heart, and then got drafted to the NBA in 2011. I started with Utah Jazz and then moved to Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland Blazers and now Boston Celtics.
HOTD: Who are your sporting heroes?
Michael Jordan, definitely, like every kid who dreams of playing basketball. I had the privilege to meet him when I was 16 in New York. His dedication to his game, his discipline, his love and passion for the game is so inspirational and no wonder he is the best player NBA has ever seen. I can’t move on without mentioning Kobe Bryant as well, whose untimely death hit us all hard. I had a chance to play against him and he was one of the basketball heroes that I enjoyed watching when I was a kid. It was so mesmerizing to watch him. Not only was his style of play great, but also his off-the-court activities, causes he dedicated himself to and how he encouraged so many people, including myself.
HOTD: How did you discover HOTD and what out of our content, would you say is your favorite?
I have been following HOTD for some time now that I don’t really recall how I started benefiting from your great content. Twitter is awash with a lot of negativity and it is so refreshing to read one or two sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) that makes you think, reflect and adjust your mindset and behavior. Even if some of the Hadiths are familiar, sometimes it feels like this was exactly what you needed that day.
HOTD: What advice would you give to someone who wants to know how to go pro in the NBA?
Obviously, self-awareness is important in determining whether or not you are fit to play professional basketball. There are too many kids out there who dream of playing in the NBA, but not all of them have the necessary talent to pursue this goal. So first of all, it is important to be self-aware of your skillset and talent. Go to a U.S. college that has a good basketball team and work hard until hopefully one of the NBA teams drafts you. It is incredibly competitive, which requires unbelievable hard work, discipline, and dedication. But one thing is true that you can’t stop winners. They will always figure out a way to win.
HOTD: What do you think are the big lessons of Covid-19? It seems like the whole world has changed, what have been the most valuable lessons for you?
I think the most valuable lesson was that it helped me feel grateful for all the blessings we have. It helped me gain perspective about people suffering all around the world. Even very basic things that we took for granted slipped away and it taught us to be grateful for everything we have. We humans understand and appreciate the value of things when we lose them. It was a good wake-up call for all of us.
HOTD: What’s your favorite Hadith?
“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”
HOTD: What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
The NBA season will take off in August and we are preparing for this. It is very exciting for all of us to return to the court and play with our teammates again. Although we won’t be able to play before our amazing fans for some time, but it feels very good to be back playing again. I am currently working out and exercising as part of my preparation for the games later this summer.
HOTD: What message would you like to give to all our HOTD readers?
Practice and execute what you read. Most of us read and listen to lots of wisdom, but unless we execute, it means nothing. Whenever you read a Hadith, just promise yourself that you will stick to it and execute fully and be committed to it.
HOTD: Wise words from a basketball great who inspires more than just on the court. Thank you Enes Kanter, may Allah bless you with good health, happiness and success always!