Enes Kanter Freedom: 1 of LeBron James' Teammates Said to Continue Criticism of Star

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 9, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Enes Freedom #13 of the Boston Celtics shoots the ball against Isaiah Hartenstein #55 of the LA Clippers during a game at the STAPLES Center on December 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2021 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom spoke with Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker in a one-on-one phone interview covering numerous topics, including his political activism, the origins of his fights and his teammates' and public figures' reactions to him.

Freedom also said in this interview that a current teammate of Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, who has been a frequent target of the Celtics big man's criticism, has encouraged him to "keep speaking the truth."

When asked about NBA players' reactions to Kanter's public remarks even after criticizing James, the center gave this response:

"Actually, one of his current teammates told me to keep speaking the truth, keep calling out these people, because these companies are using these players and they’re making billions of dollars out of them. And these players are not educated enough. They’re putting their signature on this paper and signing huge deals with these companies, but, unfortunately, it’s pretty much like modern-day slavery."

Kanter is in his 11th NBA season and second with the Celtics.

Chotiner summarized Kanter's recent remarks:

"Recently, Freedom has been speaking out about the genocide in western China, where members of the Uyghur Muslim minority have been placed in concentration camps. He has also attacked other N.B.A. stars for remaining silent on the issue, recently tweeting about LeBron James, 'Money over Morals for the "King." Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice. They really do "shut up & dribble" when Big Boss says so.'"

The referenced tweet showcased some custom sneakers, including one that appears to show an image of a kneeling James with the Chinese flag in the background:

Enes Kanter FREEDOM @EnesFreedom

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>

Kanter has called out James numerous times as well as Nike founder Phil Knight:

Enes Kanter FREEDOM @EnesFreedom

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 FREEDOM @EnesFreedom

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>

For his part, James said this in response to Freedom using his image on the sneakers:

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”

Freedom also said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic, that he didn't believe James was informed enough on the issues and that he was willing to educate him:

"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. 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."

James' Lakers and Freedom's Celtics played on Tuesday without much incident as L.A. won 117-102. James jawed with the Celtics bench:

And Lakers guard Russell Westbrook clapped in Freedom's direction:

But that was pretty much it. L.A. and Boston are not scheduled to meet each other for the rest of the regular season.