NBA watchers enjoyed a Turkish folk dance performance Sunday ahead of a Cleveland Cavaliers vs. LA Clippers game in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Turkish folk dance team from the Turkish State Opera and Ballet performed a three-minute show on the court to promote Turkish culture on the NBA’s global stage organized by Türkiye’s culture foundation the Yunus Emre Institute (YEE) and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The “Turkish Heritage Night” was held shortly before the game at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, where Turkish basketball player Cedi Osman’s team the Cavaliers faced the Clippers.
YEE said the dance show’s aim was to introduce “the rich culture of Anatolia” to the global stage, urging Americans to visit Türkiye to enjoy Turkish culture further.
The Turkish Ambassador to the US, Hasan Murat Mercan, said ahead of the dance show that it would have a “lasting impact” in terms of the promotion of Turkish culture.
“People will have good memories of Türkiye in their minds,” he said.
Cavaliers CEO Nic Barlage said sports has “so much connectivity” and the ability to “bring so many people together.”
“It’s really an honor and privilege for us to be able to have Turkish heritage right here,” he said.
He added that Cleveland’s Turkish player Cedi Osman could be an “ambassador” to showcase the “power of the NBA” not just in America but also in Türkiye.
Osman told Anadolu that the Turkish performance at the game was a “very special night” for him.
Noting there are four Turkish players in the NBA, he said: “It’s important for us to see that such a night is organized.”
Below is a short interview with Cavaliers CEO Nic Barlage.
The Yunus Emre Institute’s Executive Director in the US, Gokhan Coskun, said during a reception ahead of the dance performance that basketball is a “powerful vehicle to bring the global community together, open dialogues and expose the values we share to people around the world.”
“The partnership offers great opportunities that have been received and leverages relations through business and communities through cognitive diversity such as fostering innovation, supporting different markets and expanding access,” he added.
The event came after the Yunus Emre Institute signed a deal with the Cavaliers in 2020 to promote Turkish culture, language, history and art on the NBA’s global stage.
With the partnership, YEE said it aims to create a bridge between Türkiye and the US and to increase the number of people who forge bonds with and are friendly to Türkiye in the US and all around the world.
Under the partnership, the Cavaliers are also promoting Turkish culture by sharing social media posts related to Türkiye’s touristic cities. The social media campaign will provide two people with a trip to Türkiye.
The reception held ahead of the dance show on the court was attended by Turkish ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan, Yunus Emre Institute Executive Director in the US Gokhan Coskun, the president of Türkiye’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), Ebubekir Sahin, Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Nic Barlage and members of the Turkish American community.
Many Americans also attended the reception, during which they had the chance to sample Turkish cuisine.
Those attending the NBA game also enjoyed the “Taste of Türkiye” hall, which offered a “tour of Türkiye” with photos from the country’s various regions.