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Stossel: NBA versus freedom


Teenage basketball star Enes Kanter was shocked when his teammate criticized President Barack Obama on Facebook.

“Dude, what are you doing?” he exclaimed. He feared his teammate can be jailed.

Kanter is from Turkey, where, as Kanter explains in my recent video, individuals who criticize the president do go to jail.

His teammates laughed at him. “They were explaining to me about freedom of speech, freedom of faith, expression, freedom of protest.”

That inspired him.

When Turkey’s president shut down news outlets, Kanter decided, “I will say something about it.”He tweeted, wrote op-eds, gave interviews.

Turkey’s authoritarian rulers retaliated. They jailed his father. “They desired to set an example, that is what happens when you talk against the Turkish government.”

The NBA supported his protest. “(NBA commissioner) Adam Silver texted me twice and said, ‘Whatever you would like, we’re here for you. Keep doing what you are doing.'”

Former Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom, who became a U.S. citizen and changed his last name from Kanter to Freedom in 2021, was blocked by the NBA from playing with

But then he criticized China. Barely. He wrote, “Free Tibet” on his basketball shoes.

“There is not any rule against it,” he says. Other players put “Black Lives Matter” and “I Cannot Breathe” on their shoes. Criticizing America is inspired by the NBA.

NBA player censored for criticizing China

But “Free Tibet” on a shoe was an excessive amount of. Celtics officials told him to take them off.

He refused. “I used to be like, I’m not taking them off since it’s literally freedom of speech.”

Actually, it isn’t. America’s freedom of speech applies to government. The NBA can legally censor an worker who may cost a little them money. They did exactly that to Kanter. He didn’t get to play.

It’s clear what the NBA feared. Just minutes after Kanter tweeted a photograph of his shoes, China TV banned coverage of Celtics games. But just temporarily.

The Celtics traded Kanter to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets waived him. He’s received no offers from other teams. “I could’ve played one other six years,” he says.

He won’t.

Some sports organizations defend their athletes against China’s oppressive rules. When women’s tennis player Peng Shuai accused a Chinese government official of sexual assault after which disappeared for just a few days, the Women’s Tennis Association said they’d support her even in the event that they lost money.

NBA gets 10% of income from China

The NBA won’t.

They might get up for the precise of 1 player to talk, to peacefully criticize cruelty. It’s reported that the NBA gets 10% of its income from China. The NBA makes billions. They cannot risk 10%?

The NBA’s games are extremely popular in China. Chinese leaders probably would have resumed TV coverage. It isn’t of their interest to ban NBA games eternally.

“More people watched NBA games in China last 12 months than the American population,” Kanter points out. “I do not really think that China’s going to ban every NBA game.”

But nobody within the NBA supported him. Nobody in management. No teammate. “Ten years I speak about Turkey. I didn’t get one phone call. I speak about China someday, me and my manager was getting phone call every hour.”

“The hypocrisy hurts me essentially the most. On the subject of problems happening in America, (the NBA is) the primary organization saying, ‘That is unsuitable. That is what should occur, blah, blah, blah.'”

But silence for victims of torture.

Kanter changes his name to ‘Freedom’

Kanter has now modified his name to “Freedom.” Modified it officially. His real name now’s Enes Freedom. “I did it was because I feel the liberty is a very powerful thing which you could have — after air and water and food. … What kills me is how a Chinese dictatorship can just about control a 100% made American company and fire an American citizen from that company.”

Although Enes Freedom lost loads, he’s glad he spoke out.

“If God gives you a present, you’ll be able to give back to people by standing with them,” he says. “Meaning a lot to people on the market who do not have a voice. Should you aren’t outspoken about a few of the issues which might be happening, you are a part of the issue.”

Every Tuesday at JohnStossel.com, Stossel posts a recent video in regards to the battle between government and freedom.

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