In October, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom began using his platform to advocate for human rights across the globe by calling on the Chinese government to “Free Tibet” and by criticizing the communist government’s “brutal rule.”

What followed was the Chinese streaming service Tencent blacking out all Celtics games on the platform, as well as removing replays of previous Celtics games. But the response from China didn’t deter Kanter Freedom, as he continued to post videos and messages to his social media accounts calling out the Chinese government for their record of human rights abuses. 

On November 29, he officially became a U.S. citizen. On Monday, Kanter Freedom shared a letter sent to him by the 43rd president of the United States — George W. Bush — congratulating him on his new U.S. citizenship. 

“What an honor! Huge thanks to 43rd president of the U.S. George W. Bush,” Kanter Freedom posted to Twitter. “I’m proud to be a citizen of the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave. I will never take for granted the Freedoms that I have here.”

 

His activism has gained attention nationwide, and two NBA Hall of Famers have joined Kanter Freedom in speaking out on China’s human rights atrocities. 

Dominique Wilkins, a 15-year NBA veteran, joined Kanter Freedom in a December video criticizing the Chinese government for its treatment of the Uyghur people. 

“History is written in two ways: One, you can sit on the couch and watch how it’s written. Or two, you can do something about it and write history,” Wilkins said in the video. “Which side are we taking?”

“What is happening to the Uyghur people is one of the worst human rights tragedies in the world today,” Wilkins continued. “We cannot stay silent.”

Days later, Kanter Freedom thanked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — for his video, which applauded the Celtics center for criticizing the Chinese Communist Party’s “cruelty and inhumanity.”

“His protests have brought retaliation from China, who have pulled Celtics games from the streaming site Tencent,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I can’t help but admire Enes’ unapologetic bravery and commitment to the very freedom he celebrates with his name change. China is a big source of money for the NBA, so to criticize their cruelty and inhumanity is a bold step. He is just the kind of courageous American citizen we need.”

Kanter Freedom has used his platform not only to criticize the CCP, but to call out those who profit off of Chinese labor. 

In November, Kanter Freedom took to social media with a message for LeBron James, accompanied by pictures of his custom footwear.

“Money over Morals for the ‘King’ [Crown]. Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice,” Kanter said, referring to James. “They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss [Flag of China] says so. Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research?”

Kanter Freedom later offered to sit down with James in a “very uncomfortable conversation.”

“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. There are way bigger things than money. If LeBron stopped making money now, his grandkids and grandkids and grandkids can have the best life ever.”

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