Enes Kanter Freedom has been one of the hottest names in the NBA for the last couple of weeks. The Turkish-American player has been very outspoken against the Chinese government, advocating for freedom in the Asian country.
He has used his platform to call out several high-profile names, including Michael Jordan, Joe Tsai, and LeBron James. The King has been Freedom's favorite victim, as he's spoken with big networks about LeBron's silence when it comes to China, making bold statements about the 4x NBA champion.
Recently, Freedom sat down with Ethan Thomas of Basketball News to discuss his views on this China situation and what he expected from a player with the prestige and clout of LeBron James. He revealed that it was heartbreaking when LeBron didn't raise his voice to support former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey after the latter supported the protests in Taiwan on Twitter.
Etan Thomas: I want to ask you about working with LeBron James under a common goal and if that’s something you want to do. Because that’s what I interpret your overall goal is, that you want him to utilize his voice and his platform much like Craig Hodges wanted Michael Jordan to utilize his voice and his platform. Once again, correct me if I’m wrong.
Enes Kanter Freedom: "Let me just start with this, and obviously LeBron has the biggest platform of us all. It really broke my heart when he couldn’t say anything two years ago when Daryl Morey tweeted something about [China]. Obviously it broke my heart, but then after that, I have nothing against or personal against LeBron. I do recognize he’s maybe one of the best players to ever play the game. Maybe top-three. I would put him in my top-three, so obviously on the court, he’s a nightmare. And it’s not just about LeBron, but it’s about all the people who are making profit out of it. So, the resources are there and people know what’s going on, and I feel like before these athletes and not just LeBron, it could be Cristiano Ronaldo or this or that. Before they put their signature on a paper, they should research what kind of companies they’re signing with, and obviously, Nike is the biggest sponsor of the NBA.
"When I researched, I knew a little bit, but when I researched more and more about the slave laborers, the sweat shops and how Nike is pretty much using modern-day slavery over there in China... I just couldn’t believe it. First of all, I was ashamed for wearing Nike the last whatever [amount of] years. I was like, I have to bring a light — even though Nike is the biggest sponsor of the NBA — but I have to stand up for what is right. Because I did speak with a lot of concentration camp survivors, and I heard it from them firsthand how they were getting treated, these slave laborers. When I see these athletes — and I don’t want to say they don’t care about what’s going on — [but] they’re making millions, maybe billions of dollars from these sweat shops, [and] it does break my heart. So, I feel like all these young athletes, before you put your signature on a paper, just research about what’s going on because it could affect a lot [of people]."
Kanter also discussed if he wants to work with LeBron James. He made it clear he's not trying to go after anybody. That's the way he feels he can draw attention and ultimately sit down with LeBron or whoever wants to support his cause.
Etan Thomas: So I’m with you on that, and I definitely understand. But going back specifically to LeBron because he’s the one where a lot of your attention is going towards in terms of calling out [athletes]. What is the end goal? Do you want to work with him?
Enes Kanter Freedom: "The end goal should be to definitely sit down and work with him and just understand what’s going on. I think the main goal should be not just call him out, troll or things like that, but how to find solutions. When I called out LeBron, the next four-to-five games, many of the athletes that I actually shared the court with and played against said thank you for calling him out. Many of his ex-teammates came to me and said thank you, because we know all LeBron is doing is for his PR. That’s not what I’m saying; that’s exactly what his ex-teammates said. I didn’t make any comments when they said that. I just said okay.
"But my main goal is, how can I sit down and have a conversation with him to maybe educate him, or maybe he can educate me about what’s going on over there? What can we do to hold these companies accountable? Because these companies like Nike stand with Black Lives Matter in America, they stand with No Asian Hate, they stand with Latino community, they stand with the LGBTQ community. But when it comes to China, obviously, they’re making billion of dollars to remain in silence, and they’re pretty much using modern slavery over there.
"So, that definitely breaks my heart, and I’m like, what can I do. And LeBron is not the only one. I remember talking to my teammates, and was like, 'No, LeBron is not the only one.' There’s so many other athletes that I’m going to talk about, but I’m just not done with my research yet. This is not about color, this is not about a player; I’m not against anyone. I’m against the people who are not educated enough to put their signatures on a paper.
It looks like Ener isn't done yet, and he will keep dropping bombs whenever he has the chance. The Boston Celtics big man isn't giving up on his fight and will do whatever it takes to get more people to support him against the Chinese government.