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Enes Kanter Freedom Discusses Changing Name, Becoming US Citizen, LeBron James

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 30, 2021

Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom discussed changing his name and officially becoming a United States citizen this week while addressing the media Tuesday.

According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Kanter called becoming a U.S. citizen on Monday "a dream come true" and added that it was a moment he was waiting for since "the day he stepped into America."

Kanter also noted that his name change to Enes Kanter Freedom is official and that it was "really important" to him to "recognize the freedoms that exist in America that don't elsewhere," per Bontemps.

While Kanter was born in Switzerland and raised in Turkey, he came to the United States in 2009 to play high school basketball before moving on to the NBA in 2011.

The 29-year-old Kanter has long been an outspoken advocate for the United States and the freedoms that come along with being a citizen, especially since an incident in 2017.

At the time, Kanter was detained at a Romanian airport and told that his Turkish passport was canceled, which occurred after he publicly criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Kanter expressed his belief that the detainment occurred because of his political beliefs and his support of Fethullah Gulen, who was thought to be the leader of a failed military coup in Turkey in 2016.

While Kanter was released from detainment shortly after it started, he later said Turkish officials arrested his father, Mehmet, in 2017 as payback for his political views.

Kanter called himself "country-less" at the time and announced his intention to become an American citizen.

Kanter later discussed his criticism of LeBron James for not speaking out about human rights violations in China, saying he would "love" to have a discussion with the Los Angeles Lakers star about the subject.

"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," Kanter said, per Bontemps. "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.

"I feel like it's definitely time for athletes to stand up for the things they believe in ... not just in America ... but all over the world."

The 6'10" big man is in the midst of his 11th NBA season, and he has enjoyed stints with the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and Celtics.

He has played only sparingly this season, averaging 4.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in a career-low 12.3 minutes per game over 10 appearances.

Kanter has been a productive player during the entirety of his career, however, averaging 11.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in 723 regular-season games.

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