ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is looking to grant citizenship to U.S. national former NBA star Shane Larkin so that the player can join the national side, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Larkin, who is on his second season with Anadolu Efes, himself had also expressed interest in playing for the Turkish national team, echoing Turkish national team coach Ufuk Sarica.
“It would be a great offer, if it comes. I feel this is more like a home for me. Turkey’s jersey would look pretty good on me too,” Larkin said in an interview on Turkish television in September.
The 27-year-old had an unstable career at the NBA, playing one season each for the Dallas Mavericks (2013-14), New York Knicks (2014-15), Brooklyn Nets (2015-16). Later, he joined the Spanish side Baskonia (2016-17), and went back to Boston Celtics (2017-18), before joining Turkey’s Anadolu Efes last year.
Sarica had complained about possible difficulties of the player getting a Turkish passport, but Erdogan’s support means that the paperwork can be a formality.
“We will do what we need to do about it. We would like to see such a successful basketball player in our national team. Larkin can take our national team to very good results”, Erdogan said during a TV interview on Sunday.
Last month, Larkin broke the EuroLeague record by scoring the most points in a single game by netting 49 points against Bayern Munich in Istanbul.
Anadolu Efes is paying $2.6 million net to Larkin, who will get $2.8 million net for the 2020-21 season if he stays in Istanbul.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)