Celtics’ Enes Kanter, Inspired by LeBron James, to Open Charter School in Oklahoma City

Enes Kanter has played the part of heel opposite LeBron James on the court in the NBA. Off the court, though, the Turkish big man for the Boston Celtics is taking his cues from the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star, at least as far as founding a school is concerned.

According to The Oklahoman, Enes and his associates recently submitted an application to Oklahoma City Public Schools to establish a charter school in the Sooner State’s capital city. The Enes Kanter School for Exceptional Learning will cater to minority students in fourth through 12th grade from low-income families with a curriculum that emphasizes physical, emotional and mental health to help teach reading, writing, math and science. The school will also assist students from immigrant families who need support with their English language skills.

Enes has long advocated for the importance of education in his off-the-court endeavors, including during his annual summer basketball camp tours. But LeBron’s backing of the I PROMISE School in Akron, Ohio, galvanized him to take that belief to the next level.

“I think that’s the most beautiful thing you can do—educating our future, investing in our future,” Enes told The Boston Globe. “It was the most beautiful thing LeBron did, and it inspired me. I criticize LeBron a lot, obviously. Me and him have a beef. But what he did was just—I was, like, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’”

Enes and his representatives have yet to select a site for the school, and will have to gain approval from the Oklahoma City School Board before the project can proceed.

Though Enes has played for five NBA teams—and logged more games in his three-and-a-half years with the Utah Jazz than he did in two-and-a-half seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder—he chose OKC because of his enduring connection to the community there.

“Despite playing for other teams, I continue to return to Oklahoma City to host my annual basketball summer camps and to support programs that serve the OKC children,” Enes wrote in his application. “Through my foundation, my philanthropic activities extend to all of the cities where I have played for: Utah, Portland, New York and Boston.”


Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.