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#pounditWednesday, January 26, 2022

Enes Kanter Freedom claims NBA ‘begged’ him not to wear anti-China shoes

Enes Kanter smiles

Enes Kanter has accelerated his outspokenness this season, and one of his recent moves apparently was not well received by some within the NBA.

Kanter, 29, is in his 11th season in the NBA. He is averaging just 12.4 minutes for the Boston Celtics. But what he has lacked in playing time he has made up for in public comments.

The big man has been calling out China for its human rights violations, which has led to some consequences. Targeting China has also led Kanter to call out LeBron James and Nike, which both have strong business ties to the Asian country. The NBA has been very outspoken regarding domestic political issues, but they have a significant business relationship with China, which forms a large portion of the league’s total revenue pie. The NBA’s relationship with China has led them to more or less look the other way when it comes to China’s problematic human rights violations.

Kanter, who recently changed his last name to “Freedom,” has worn shoes at games calling out China and James. The first time he wore shoes with a message critical of China came during the Celtics’ game at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 21. He wore shoes with the message “Free Tibet” written on them.

In an interview published on Tuesday, Kanter claimed that a few people with the NBA begged him not to wear those shoes.

“Before the game at Madison Square Garden, two gentlemen from the NBA begged me to take the shoes off,” Kanter told the Post. “I was confused. I was getting ready for my citizenship test and I knew that the First Amendment is freedom of speech. Them telling me to take my shoes off went against my First Amendment rights. I said I would not take them off. I didn’t care if I got banned or fined. During halftime I received a text message from my manager: All the Celtics games were suddenly banned in China. It took one half of a Celtics game, with me wearing these shoes, on the bench, for the games to get banned.”

An NBA spokesperson denied that anyone with the league asked/told Kanter not to wear the shoes.

When Kanter followed it up by wearing shoes with the message “Free Uyghur” on them, he says he was harassed by the players’ union.

Kanter touched on one of the big gripes many critics have with the NBA and its players: they claim to support social justice but are silent when it comes to China.

“It’s sad that these players are social justice warriors, but, when it comes to China, they are scared to say anything,” Kanter told the Post.

Kanter came to the United States from Turkey for basketball reasons. He has called out the country’s president multiple times and has feared consequences for his defiance. It seems that any attempts to silence him have backfired and caused him to be more committed to speaking out.

H/T OutKick

Photo: Nov 22, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (11) before the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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