Lakers' LeBron James Won't 'Give His Energy' to Enes Kanter After Center's Criticism

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IINovember 20, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James plays against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has publicly criticized Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Nike co-founder Phil Knight in recent weeks to raise awareness of alleged human rights violations in China.

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

Dear <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nike</a><br><br>Stop the modern day SLAVERY, now!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HypocriteNike?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HypocriteNike</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndUyghurForcedLabor?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndUyghurForcedLabor</a> <a href="https://t.co/tvX2k3wE4X">pic.twitter.com/tvX2k3wE4X</a>

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

To the owner of <a href="https://twitter.com/Nike?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Nike</a>, Phil Knight <br><br>How about I book plane tickets for us<br>and let's fly to China together.<br><br>We can try to visit these SLAVE labor<br>camps and you can see it with your<br>own eyes.<a href="https://twitter.com/KingJames?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KingJames</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Jumpman23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Jumpman23</a> <br>you guys are welcome to come too.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EndUyghurForcedLabor?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EndUyghurForcedLabor</a> <a href="https://t.co/241bg887JO">pic.twitter.com/241bg887JO</a>

Kanter's Celtics and James' Lakers faced off in Boston on Friday, with the center sporting these sneakers featuring an image of the Nike-sponsored athlete:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

Money over Morals for the “King” 👑 <br><br>Sad &amp; disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice<br><br>They really do “shut up &amp; dribble” when Big Boss 🇨🇳 says so<br><br>Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research? <a href="https://t.co/YUA8rGYeoZ">pic.twitter.com/YUA8rGYeoZ</a>

Regarding Kanter's comments, James had this to say postgame, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin:

Dave McMenamin @mcten

LeBron James said he won’t “give his energy” to Enes Kanter’s use of his likeness on his sneakers to bring attention to human rights violations in China. He added that Kanter, as a man, should approach him directly. “He saw me in the hallway tonight and he walked right past me”

The two also crossed paths on the court pregame, per A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report:

A. Sherrod Blakely @ASherrodblakely

Moments after LeBron James walks on to the floor to warm up, right behind him is Enes Kanter who has on more than one occasion, called out LBJ for not speaking out more on social injustices outside the US. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ackward?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ackward</a> <a href="https://t.co/l8lBkXcJvN">pic.twitter.com/l8lBkXcJvN</a>

Kanter and James have clashed before, with the former player coming to then-rookie New York Knicks teammate Frank Ntilikina's defense after LeBron said the Knicks should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr. over the Frenchman in 2017. Kanter also intervened in a minor altercation between Ntilikina and James when the latter player was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The center also expressed disappointment at James' comments criticizing then Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's Oct. 2019 tweet in support of Hong Kong, as noted by Chris Bumbaca of USA Today.

On Friday, Kanter and the C's won 130-108 behind Jayson Tatum's 37-point, 11-rebound double-double. James returned after an eight-game absence (abdominal strain) and posted 23 points and six rebounds.

L.A. will wrap its two-game season series with Boston at home Tues., Dec. 7, in Boston.