Celtics’ Enes Kanter Freedom Says He’d Like To Talk To LeBron James About Human Rights Violations In China

BOSTON — Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom said he would like the opportunity to speak with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — whom he, along with Nike, have criticized for hypocrisy for failing to speak out about human rights violations in China — and “educate” him on the subject.

“Of course I’d love to sit down with him and talk to him,” Freedom said Tuesday after the Celtics practice. “I’m sure it’s going to be a very awkward conversation for him. I don’t know if he wants that. I’ll make it very easy for him.

“I don’t know if he’s educated enough, but I’m here to educate him and I’m here to help him because it’s not about money. It’s about morals, principles and values. It’s about what you stand for. are much bigger things than money.If LeBron stops making money now, his grandkids and grandkids and grandkids can have the best life ever.

“I feel like it’s definitely time for athletes to stand up for the things they believe in…not just in America…but around the world.”

Freedom, who became a U.S. citizen on Monday and changed his last name from “Kanter” to “Freedom” to mark the occasion, has repeatedly spoken out against both James and Nike for failing to commit human rights violations to the United States. against the ethnic Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang province. During his interview with reporters on Tuesday, he wore a shirt that read ‘Freedom for Uyghur’.

After the Celtics defeated the Lakers at TD Garden earlier this month, James was asked about Freedom’s comments about him. James said Freedom is “not someone I will give my energy to,” adding that Freedom had the option of approaching him after the game, but instead walked past him in the hallway.

When asked about that interaction on Tuesday, Freedom — whose Celtics play the Lakers next Tuesday in Los Angeles — presented his side of the story.

“I was actually on the field and after I left the field he was behind me… Then I stopped to take a picture with a kid, and he was the one who walked right past me,” Freedom explained .

Freedom on Tuesday echoed its sense that Nike is “the biggest hypocritical company,” noting, “They stand for Black Lives Matter in America — great. They stand for the Latino community. No Asian hatred. They stand for behind the LGBTQ community But when it comes to some countries like China, they are silent, it is clear that they use these players to become the face, such as Christiano Ronaldo for football, LeBron for basketball and some other athletes. they have become puppets.

“I feel like we need to be careful about what we wear because every time you put those items on your feet or back, there’s so much blood, sweat, or oppression on those items.”

Freedom also renewed his criticism of Michael Jordan for being silent on these issues, saying that other players have encouraged him to bring Jordan into the conversation as well.

“The point is, when I’m talking about LeBron, when I’m talking about Michael Jordan, it’s the black athletes in the league who contact me and say, ‘Listen, talk about this person,'” Freedom said. “Not many people know this, but they are the ones talking to me. When Black Lives Matter protests happened, I was the third in the entire league to go out and protest. I was actually wearing my jersey, I wanted them to know I’m with them.

“But when these issues come up, some of the other players in the league are afraid to say anything to LeBron or Jordan… about LeBron. It’s amazing — but at least he’s standing up for things in America. Why? don’t you say anything about Michael Jordan? All he does is give money, but he’s silent. He’s afraid to speak up.'”

This season, Freedom is wearing shoes with images of various people and places he has spoken out against, including the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping, Nike and James. He has also used his shoes to promote such things as freedom for Tibet and Taiwan.

He said the idea for the shoe campaign was his own, growing up in Turkey from his childhood. When watching NBA games on television, the first thing he noticed was the shoes the star players were wearing, and he decided that this would be a way to raise awareness and break through among young people watching at home.

“The most important thing is to… inspire the young generation,” Freedom said. “And I think that was the best way to do it. And I looked at the rule books, and there was nothing against it.”

To that end, Freedom said he had a chat with Adam Silver about his shoes and told the NBA commissioner that he would abide by league rules.

“I was like, ‘If there are any rules I’m breaking or breaking, let me know. I’ll be the first to follow,” Freedom told. “And he said, ‘No, you’re not breaking any rules.’ And I thought, ‘Adam, you’re the ones telling us and encouraging players to stand up for what’s right, not just for the problems in America, but around the world. So you’re the ones who encouraged me to talk about all the violations happening around the world, right?’ And he said, “Listen, you have the freedom to say what you want.” And I was like, ‘I appreciate that.'”

Freedom spoke to the media for the first time in weeks. In the first 13 games of the season, he played under 10 minutes together in two short appearances, while finishing third in Boston’s center rotation behind Robert Williams and Al Horford. On Nov. 14, he posted a flipbook to Instagram with the caption, “Keep holding me down on the field, I’ll expose you off the field.” The next day, he came into the game in the second half after Williams left the game with knee pain, and has played in every game since.

In the wake of his social media post, Freedom said he had spoken to Celtics coach Ime Udoka about his playing time, and Udoka assured him it had nothing to do with his political beliefs.

Freedom also spoke about his appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show Monday night, in which he said Americans should “shut up and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world and focus on, you know, their freedoms and their human rights and their democracy.”

When asked about those comments Tuesday, Freedom said he is an apolitical person and is focused on human rights instead.

“There’s a thin but huge line between human rights and politics. The reason I’m so involved with the politicians, the senators or congressmen, people in the State Department, the White House, or whatever – the reason is because I’m trying to help people, we’re trying to set up accounts, we’re trying to find ways to just help those people — not just in Turkey, but all over the world — trying to find a way to impose sanctions on people some countries for violating some human rights, try to boycott the Olympics and free other political prisoners.”

He continued: “Obviously we have our problems here, but people should definitely feel blessed to be in this situation.”


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