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Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has always been a massive advocate for freedom of speech as well as other human rights activism. Kanter, a native of Turkey, has been openly critical of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for his corruption — with Kanter calling him “the Hitler of our century.”
On Oct. 19, Kanter posted a video calling the Chinese Communist president a “brutal dictator” for his regime’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims, as well as the people of Taiwan and Hong Kong. Kanter also wore shoes that stated “Free Tibet” and a t-shirt of a picture of the exiled Dalai Lama for the Celtics season opening game against the New York Knicks.
China has responded by banning the broadcasts of Boston’s games going forward. This is not the first time that Chinese streaming service Tencent announced that it would stop playing a certain NBA team’s games due to criticism of the government.
In 2019 Daryl Morrey, then the general manager of the Houston Rockets, had given public support for the pro democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The NBA has been in business with China since 1979 and the money involved, as well as the influence China has in policy has grown every year since the relationship started.
The NBA has not disciplined Kanter in any way over the years and this is the correct decision because he is exercising his First Amendment right and is allowed to criticize the government.