Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has officially changed his last name to Freedom in a continued pursuit of social justice.
Time in Turkey
Freedom’s announcement coincides with his pending American citizenship that is set to go through on Monday. Born in Switzerland but raised in Turkey, Freedom has been in numerous public feuds with the government in his native country that has prevented him from returning home.
The Turkish government, which has linked Freedom to a local armed terrorist group— a charge that he vehemently denies— is seeking his extradition so that he may be dealt with in their court of law.
The former third-overall draft pick first sported the term “Freedom” above his last name in the NBA bubble in 2020 when the league allowed players to inscribe their jerseys with various terms encouraging social justice.
Freedom for All
He also frequently references his new namesake on his social media, stating “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE” in his Twitter bio with a picture of him and “FREEDOM FOR ALL” in his header image. Now, “freedom” is coming full circle to Boston’s big man, the soon-to-be Enes Kanter Freedom.
Freedom’s latest international endeavor has been voicing support for Tibet amidst its struggles for sovereignty with China, a dispute that has raged on since the beginning of 1950 when the Communist government claimed authority over the small, mountainous region, a move which Tibetans claim was done solely to steal their autonomy.
To this day, the ethnic and religious divides have still proven too wide to resolve, leading to violent resultant conflicts that have drawn the attention of other major world powers, such as the United States of America.
The 6-foot-10 Kentucky product has also been critical of megastar LeBron James’ past comments regarding China, which made headway during the 2020 preseason and led to Los Angeles Lakers games being canceled on Chinese television.
On November 18, 2021, Freedom took to Twitter to say that “[It’s] Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice,” referencing James as “the ‘King.’”
James responded in a postgame press conference on November 19, the day the Lakers played Freedom’s Celtics in Boston. Freedom had sported shoes during the game emblazoned with the Chinese Flag that said “Hey [King], still researching and getting educated?” a direct reference to James’ non-answer that sparked the original debate.
“He’s trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself,” said James. “As a man, if you’ve got an issue with somebody, you come up to him. He had his opportunity tonight. I seen him in the hallway and he walked right by me.”
LeBron has long been a proponent of various social justice efforts, most memorably when he orchestrated a crew of himself, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony to deliver a unified speech on the topic at the 2016 ESPYS, an annual award show that highlights the best individual and team performers in sports.
Platform for All
Freedom’s brash and unwavering style has polarized members of the NBA and political communities, but he remains steadfast that he is attempting to use his platform to further his message.
Freedom is averaging 4.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in his second stint with the Celtics this season.
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