Enes Kanter, who plays as the center for the Boston Celtics, has recently made a series of highly critical remarks about Xi Jinping, the President of China. However, these remarks incurred severe consequences for the NBA overseas.
In a Facebook video posted earlier in the week, Kanter promoted a pro-Tibet message. In addition, during a game against the New York Knicks, Kanter’s sneakers were emblazoned with the following message: “Free Tibet.”
Kanter also rebuked Xi as a “brutal dictator.”
“My message to the Chinese government is free Tibet,” Kanter declared, adding that “Tibet belongs to Tibetans.”
Kanter also stressed that he wants to “add [his] voice” to many others that are “[speaking] out” against what the Tibetans are enduring underneath the draconian rule of China’s dictatorship.
“Shame on the Chinese government,” Kanter declared, noting that Xi is undertaking a concentrated effort to destroy Tibetan culture and identity.
Shortly after Kanter’s remarks, the Knicks-Celtics game was displayed as “unavailable” for replay on Tencent, a mega-corporation and Chinese streaming giant. Tencent Sports also noted that it would refuse to play any NBA games featuring the Celtics well into the foreseeable future.
China took similar action against the Philadelphia 76ers games after Daryl Morey, the previous general manager of the Houston Rockets, openly supported Hong Kong’s protests two years ago.
Aside from the harsh response from Tencent, a Celtics fan account on Weibo, another Chinese social media platform, proclaimed that it would no longer post any information about the Boston-based team.
“Resolutely resist any behavior that damages national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!”
Recently, Chinese officials have placed significant pressure on Tibet by demanding Tibetans speak and write standard Chinese. The totalitarian Communist Party that governs the nation argues that it has “peacefully liberated” the Tibetans from “oppressive theocracy” after restoring Chinese rule in the region.
However, critics have argued that China’s latest moves towards cultural assimilation are designed to eliminate Tibetan traditions.
Kanter received support from several politicians, including Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who voiced his support for Kanter on Twitter.
This is exactly right @EnesKanter. Thank you for your courage and willingness to use your platform to stand up to General Secretary Xi!
When we all stand up together, we act as the voice for Tibetans living under the oppression and abuses of communist rule in Beijing. https://t.co/AQZd2STl3B
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) October 21, 2021
In general, Kanter is one of the most vocal NBA players in terms of geopolitical commentary. For instance, he has levied heavy criticism against Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, and he has also expressed fear that he might face assassination if he leaves the borders of the United States.