Boston Celtics center and human rights proponent Enes Kanter officially changed his name from “Enes Kanter” to “Enes Kanter Freedom,” ahead of becoming a U.S. citizen Monday.
Senior lead NBA Insider at the Athletic and Stadium Shams Charania announced that Kanter is poised to change his last name to “Freedom” on twitter Sunday. (RELATED: NBA Player Enes Kanter Says He’s Becoming A Citizen Of ‘The Greatest Country In The World’)
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is legally changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, @TheAthletic @Stadium learned. Kanter will be his middle name, Freedom is his new last name. He becomes a U.S. citizen on Monday.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 28, 2021
In a January 2021 piece for NBC Sports, Kanter shared his enthusiasm about becoming a U.S. citizen. “I’m even thinking about adding an American name. I think it’s an amazing honor to become a citizen here. I’m just like why not? Why not add an American name?” Perhaps changing his last name to “Freedom” is as American as it gets.
For years, Kanter has been a voice championing human rights in his home country of Turkey. He has recently called out the Chinese Communist Party for human rights violations against Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans among transgressions against Hong Kong and Taiwan.
During the 2021-22 NBA season, Kanter claimed that two unnamed NBA officials pressured him not to wear his “Free Tibet” sneakers. Still, he relented, clarifying his right to speak up by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver even at the potential financial cost to himself and the league. Chinese media giant Tencent restricted the Celtics’ season opener from Chinese viewership, subsequently blacklisting the rest of their games in China.
Since then, the former 3rd overall pick has donned on-court sneakers advocating for China to end organ harvesting and forced labor, defending Taiwanese and Hong Kong freedom, advocating for the removal of the Winter Olympics from Beijing, and most recently, depicting Lakers star Lebron James being crowned by Chinese President Xi Jinping. (RELATED: Enes Kanter Says LeBron James’ Former Teammates Told Him The Basketball Star Only Cares About His ‘PR’)
The genocidal Chinese government and the insecure tyrant behind it all
XI JINPING must not be allowed to host the upcoming Winter Olympics.
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 30, 2021
Basket balls!: @EnesKanter of the Celtics had his shoes painted up with @KingJames bowing to have Chinese dictator Xi Jinping put on his commie crown. He did this DURING his game against the Lakers! 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/2HRmiXHwLE
— Chris Loesch (@ChrisLoesch) November 20, 2021
In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Kanter explained that he had “been studying really hard” for his citizenship test, and that of all 27 Amendments in the U.S. Constitution, his favorite is the First Amendment because of “freedom of speech.”
.@EnesKanter says that he doesn’t care about the cost that he may face from criticizing China. But are the NBA concerned? Kanter told me he has discussed it with commissioner Adam Silver. “I told him… am I breaking any rules?”
“He said, no, you’re not breaking any rules.” pic.twitter.com/v2pDNklsGS
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) November 10, 2021
In line with the First Amendment, Kanter affirmed his right to speak up against Chinese tyranny, stating that the NBA encourages “players to talk about all the injustices” and “human rights abuses around the world.”
“People think I do politics, I don’t do politics. I do human rights,” Kanter added.