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Kanter To Become Freedom As NBA Player Fights for Human Rights

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Enes Kanter plays basketball in America for the Boston Celtics currently. As a lover of sports, the recent bouts of activism have been super obnoxious and none more so than in basketball. Mostly because we don’t get to hear much about conservative b-ballers or even players who love and respect America. (You know, the country that pays them to play a game).

One player has begun to make some major headlines and it has nothing to do with his sport. Like Lebron James recent behavior off the court, it’s all about his tweets, his op-eds, and most importantly his politics. Mostly specifically with how he feels about China.

Enes Kanter is a practicing Muslim and has written three pieces during his basketball career. One, back in 2017, for The Players Tribune called “They Can Take Away Your Country, Just Like That.”  In the piece he discusses Turkey canceling his passports and never taking our freedoms for granted. “We should never forget how important our freedoms are here in America. That’s something you appreciate even more when they are taken away.”

The second op-ed he wrote was for The Washington Post, titled “Enes Kanter: When Ramadan and the NBA playoffs collide, my faith is my strength”. In this he speaks to his religion and the fasting he has to do which often takes place during the playoffs and how difficult it would be if not for his faith.

The third and most recent op-ed once again speaks to his love and appreciation of the freedoms afforded to him in the United States of America. He wrote the piece and had it published in the Wall Street Journal. “Enes Kanter: Move The Olympics For Peng Shuai’s Sake”. In this article, Kanter speaks of the Women’s Tennis player, Peng Shuai and her frightening disappearance after she accused a “former top-ranking official in the Chinese Communist Party of sexually assaulting her.”

Of course, her tweet was removed in less than 30 minutes, she disappeared for and then only recently turned up in what Kanter refers to as “seemingly stage-managed videos”, implying she is still in danger for her attempts to call out the man who’d forced himself on her.

“For decades, Western athletes, celebrities and corporations have diligently kept silent in the face of Chinese human-rights violations. International hotel chains, airlines, apparel brands, sports leagues and Hollywood studios have steered away from “sensitive topics” such as Tibet’s independence, the Uyghur genocide, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Taiwan’s sovereignty.

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In the video below he spoke to Fox News about Peng Shuai and his ethics, morals, and principals. He also seems to call out Lebron James, though he doesn’t mention any names, when he speaks to the idea that no one should be silenced for the sake of keeping China happy. This is likely alluding to the time when James called out one of the execs for speaking out against China and their record of human rights abuses.

The feud between Enes Kanter and Lebron James continues on Twitter as Enes insists that Lebron is in the wrong for his support of China and Nike. Some have pointed out that Enes Kanter wears Nike, too, but that’s because it’s part of his uniform. He doesn’t get to pick another company such as Adidas or Reebok. Nike won the bid and will hold their place as apparel provider to the NBA for 8 total years.

Kanter, who has been playing professional basketball in the USA for 11 years, has decided he cannot remain a Turkish citizen. On Monday, November 29th, Kanter will become an American citizen and when he does, he will legally change his last name to Freedom. He will not be dropping his last name altogether, but instead, will make Kanter his middle name. Reported by Boston’s local CBS channel, the Boston Celtics even stopped streaming their games in China back in October of this past year.

“Early in the season, Kanter spoke out against Chinese leader Xi Jinping, whom he called a “brutal dictator” for his policies regarding Tibet. Celtics games are no longer streaming in China because of Kanter’s comments.

“Kanter also spoke out against James ahead of Boston’s game against the Lakers last week, ripping the NBA superstar for his relationship with Nike — and his silence on the company’s use of slave labor in China. Kanter has been putting messages on his sneakers for the majority of Boston’s games this season.”

(Below are some of his sneakers with his messages to China)