After 10 years in the NBA, Enes Freedom (formerly Enes Kanter) is out of the league after being cut by the Houston Rockets. There's a good chance he'll never return.
Years ago, Kanter started a campaign for human rights that separated him from his family and country. After speaking up about China, he has also likely lost his career.
But as the sacrifices pile up for the 29-year-old, folks are really starting to take notice of the message he is trying to share and the bravery it has taken to refuse to be silenced.
During NBC’s prime-time Olympic broadcast (which he refused to watch), he appeared in an ad for free speech by FIRE—the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. A member of the Norwegian Parliament put his name up for the Nobel Peace Prize. Last Thursday, 30 Nobel laureates released a letter calling on the Celtics to stand with Freedom “on the right side of history” and not “to drop him as a player.”
In late October, before the season opener in Madison Square Garden, Kanter released a video on social media calling out Chinese President Xi Jinping. He urged the leader to “free Tibet" before heading to the game wearing shoes inspired by the Tibetan flag.
In November he officially changed his name to reflect his new mission.
By December, he was going toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the NBA for pandering to China and ignoring human rights violations happening in the area.
This was happening as Enes kept writing messages on his shoes and kept seeing his minutes dwindle by the Celtics. Eventually, he wasn't playing at all and it's likely his movement was part of the reason why.
Today, Enes has likely played his last NBA game. But he's focused on much bigger things now. Hopefully, the loss of his platform will not stop him from speaking out whenever he can and keeping up with the issues he has fought so hard to raise awareness of.