During a recent interview with PBS’s Margaret Hoover, the NBA’s Enes Kanter Freedom predicted that he’d soon be banished from the league due to his outspoken support for China’s persecuted Uighurs and criticism of that nation’s abysmal human rights record. “Soon” turned out to be about 24 hours. The Boston Celtics traded him to the Houston Rockets on February 10th, whereupon the Rockets cut him outright. This was obviously no coincidence. Kanter Freedom played for a league utterly beholden to China, a league that would do anything for China’s massive market and the massive cash that it can reap from it.
At one point during his interview, Hoover asked Kanter Freedom, “Do you think they’re trying to silence you?” He replied, “Oh, for sure they are.” And they have.
Enes Kanter became an American citizen last year, and proudly so. He decided to officially change his name to Enes Kanter Freedom to mark the occasion and publicly tout his love of America and the freedoms it promised. Perhaps he knows better now.
NBA and NFL teams allow— indeed encourage—their players to literally wear social justice messages on their sleeves…and helmets and jerseys and shoes. They can lament the fate of drug-addled criminals, praise looters and vandals, and call for the defunding of law enforcement, but are absolutely forbidden, apparently, from calling attention to an ongoing genocide?
The only legitimate response to leagues as hypocritical, disingenuous-- and evil-- as this would be to loudly tell them to “Eff off forever.” But that would require valuing someone else’s freedom over one’s own desires and success. And that would take integrity, something Enes Kanter Freedom has in spades. The rest of us? Apparently, not so much.