Enes Kanter Freedom: 'NBA Begged Me' to Remove 'Free Tibet' Sneakers
Enes Kanter Freedom of the Boston Celtics detailed some of the lengths that the National Basketball Association (NBA) will go to appease communist China, such as when they allegedly “begged” him to remove his “Free Tibet” sneakers from the court.
This past November, Enes began wearing his “Free Tibet” sneakers to criticize the NBA’s partnership with genocidal China, a move the league did not appreciate.
“Before the game at Madison Square Garden, two gentlemen from the NBA begged me to take the shoes off,” Freedom told the New York Post.
Representatives from the NBA denied to the Post that Freedom was ever censored for his sneakers.
At the time, Freedom had been gearing up for his U.S. citizenship test and cited his First Amendment rights to speak his mind.
HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 24: Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics sneakers are seen at Toyota Center on October 24, 2021 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
“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.”
Freedom said he refused to take the shoes off and did not care if he got banned or fined. Once halftime approached, he learned that China had banned all Celtics games from streaming in the country.
“I said I would not take them off. I didn’t care if I got banned or fined,” he said. “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.”
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 22: The shoes of Enes Kanter #13 of the Boston Celtics before the Celtics home opener against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden on October 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Freedom kept his promise when the NBA allegedly asked him not to wear those shoes again by switching the message to “Free Uyghur.”
“They asked me if I would wear those shoes again, and I promised not to — but I wore ‘Free Uyghur,’” Freedom said. “The National Basketball Players Association called me and harassed me. I told them to stop calling and texting me.”
“Now I am on a big stage, and there are so many dictators out there who are destroying people. God gave me this platform, and I have to use it for the good fight,” he added.
The NBA’s all-too-cozy relationship with genocidal China has come under scrutiny from various corners of the media as of late, starting when CNN’s Jake Tapper publicly scolded the league for its lack of moral courage on the issue.
“The millionaires and billionaires of Hollywood and the NBA and the IOC and Wall Street are all so eager for Chinese cash, they’re pretending none of this is happening,” Tapper said on Sunday. “There is no amount of money that can buy enough soap to wash that blood off their hands.”