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NBA: Did Enes Kanter Call Out LeBron James Over His China Comments?

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Did Enes Kanter call out LeBron James over his China comments?

Over the past couple of weeks, the NBA has been wrapped up in controversy regarding Hong Kong and China. While everyone from team head coaches to commissioner Adam Silver has weighed in on the issue, everyone took notice when LeBron James sided with China over Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. Enes Kanter not only noticed but made his own statement.

Taking to Twitter Monday night, the Celtics center fired off several messages about the price of political freedom. The seemed to stand in direct response to James' comments.

LeBron James' controversial comments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyiHdRVQImM

While it's newsworthy anytime LeBron James speaks, the NBA star made major news before the Los Angeles Lakers' game against the Golden State Warriors. Rather than issuing a few bland cliches, he took aim at Morey.

“I don’t want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James told reporters. “And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say, and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”

While James tried to backtrack on Twitter, he was met with a social media firestorm. Many fans accused him of protecting his own business interests over standing up for what's right; one NBA player, however, chimed in, too.

Enes Kanter takes to Twitter

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is never shy about sharing his opinion about any topic. On Monday night, he took to Twitter, apparently to express his disappointment with LeBron James.

After tweeting “Wow dude!” with a face-palming emoji, Kanter simply said “SMH,” and a nauseous emoji. He would then fire off a longer, more verbose tweet, indirectly explaining his feelings on the matter.

Kanter, who is a Turkish national, listed the series of challenges that he and his family have faced for their opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He concluded the tweet by simply reminding his followers that “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.” While he never directly mentioned LeBron James or China, his message was clear: personal profit should never come before standing up for human rights.

Kanter's political activism

As he alluded to in his tweet, Kanter has a history of political activism. He's been an outspoken critic of Erdoğan, even calling him “the Hitler of our century.” Unsurprisingly, that has made him and his family the target of various pro-Turkey forces.

The center has, among other issues, had problems traveling with his Turkish passport, before it was ultimately canceled. Turkey also issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing Kanter of being part of a terrorist group. Those factors have caused him to remain in the United States, refusing to play games in Canada or Europe due to safety concerns.

None of the issues have stopped Kanter from speaking out, though. For the center, opposing injustice comes before all else. “I hope people around the world will open their eyes to the human rights abuses,” he wrote in a Players Tribune post. “Things have gotten very bad over the last year. This is not my opinion.”

While Kanter didn't name names, his stance on global issues became clear once again on Monday night. People in the public sphere have an obligation to speak out against injustice, even if you're LeBron James.

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Joe Kozlowski
Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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Joe Kozlowski Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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