Former Boston Celtic and outspoken human rights advocate Enes Kanter Freedom, says that the NBA’s relationship with China is one of the most “hypocritical” in all of sports.
The former NBA star also says his criticisms of that relationship have led the league to force him into early retirement.
In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, Kanter says that although he’s still working out, the league appears ready to end his career for calling out their hypocrisy in advocating for social justice while partnering with the world’s leading human rights abuser abroad.
“They’re pushing me to retire at the age of 30, unfortunately,” Kanter said of his situation. “You know, when you talk about some uncomfortable situations happening around the world and your organization that you played for for 11 years tied up billions of dollars with that dictatorship (China), unfortunately, it’s tough. I’m going to push through it. I’m still working out. I’m still practicing. But, the one thing I can say is, NBA and Adam Silver is one of the most hypocritical organizations and one of the most hypocritical commissioners out there in the world. They stand up for things until it affects their money or business.”
Kanter’s harsh (and accurate) criticisms of the league and its Commissioner Adam Silver are not likely to land him a gig anytime soon.
However, it has been evident for some time that the former Celtics center values his human rights advocacy above his own personal well-being. Kanter Freedom first made headlines earlier this year by wearing shoes with slogans. The shoes displayed messages such as “Free China,” Free Tibet, and “Uyghurs,” a reference to the Muslim minority population in China that is being forced to perform slave labor that benefits companies such as Nike.
XI JINPING and the Chinese Communist Party
Someone has to teach you a lesson,
I will NEVER apologize for speaking the truth.
You can NOT buy me.
You can NOT scare me.
You can NOT silence me.
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) October 24, 2021
Instead of embracing the political speech from their players, as they had always done when their players espoused left-wing talking points, the NBA, according to Kanter, threatened to have him pulled from games if he didn’t remove his shoes. As a result, Chinese television stopped showing Celtics games for a while due to Kanter’s activism, and the Turkish-born big man was eventually traded from the Celtics to the Rockets and then released.
Despite his impactful play in Portland the previous year, Kanter had his minutes significantly reduced in Boston after he began wearing his protest shoes. Now, the league has reduced his minutes to nothing as he hasn’t been given an opportunity to try out with another team since being released by the Rockets. And all this is happening at a time when there is a scarcity of quality veteran centers such as Kanter.
I’m sure Kanter’s criticism of the NBA’s relationship with China has nothing to do with that.