China Critic Enes Kanter Freedom Waived by Rockets After Celtics Trade

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter poses for a photo during the Boston Celtics Media Day, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Canton, Mass. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm

Enes Kanter Freedom, the NBA’s leading voice on human rights and loudest critic of China’s genocide against its Uyghur Muslim population, finds himself at least temporarily out of the league after the Houston Rockets waived him on Thursday.

Freedom was traded by the Celtics to the Rockets for center Daniel Theis before being waived.

Freedom, who is no stranger to using social media in his crusade against the brutal communist regime, had tweeted out a South Park-looking video of him being tortured and shot by Chinese leader Xi Jinping hours before being cut by Houston.

The Houston Rockets are not only the most popular team in China; it was also then-Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey who enraged the Chinese in 2019 when he tweeted, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” That tweet led to a backlash against the league in which China pulled Rockets merchandise off the shelves, took league games off the air, and broke contracts with the NBA totaling tens of millions of dollars.

Though the Rockets have not officially stated Freedom’s video as a reason for waiving him, it’s entirely possible it played a role in their decision.

Though, Freedom’s anti-communist stance should have been well-known to them prior to the trade.

Freedom grabbed headlines earlier in the season when he began wearing specially designed shoes calling attention to China’s genocide against the Uyghurs.

View of the shoes worn by Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at State Farm Arena on November 17, 2021...

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – NOVEMBER 17: A view of the shoes worn by Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics against the Atlanta Hawks during the first half at State Farm Arena on November 17, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 11-year NBA veteran also recently released a video making a direct call to Chinese leader Xi Jinping to shut down the Uyghur slave labor camps.

It’s not uncommon for teams to trade players and then waive them while managing their caps and dumping salary. However, the Houston Rockets, the most popular team in China, orchestrating a trade that lands them the league’s most outspoken China critic and then cutting him hours later, to the glee of the Chinese media, is just a little too perfect.

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