He’s called Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator,” prompting a ban on the airing of his games in the country, and now he has proudly changed his name to celebrate becoming an American citizen.
Enes Kanter, a center for the Boston Celtics, is now legally Enes Kanter Freedom. Later this week, when his team plays the Philadelphia 76ers, the name “Freedom” will be on the back of his jersey.
He told CNN the name change will reflect the “fight” for freedom he has waged throughout his life after growing up in Turkey.
“Here [in the U.S.] there is freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press,” he said. “I didn’t have any of those with Turkey.”
Kanter, who became a naturalized citizen Monday, said “freedom is the greatest thing a human being can have.”
“That’s why I wanted to make that word a part of me, and carry it wherever I go,” he said.
At his naturalization ceremony, he waved a miniature U.S. after reciting the oath of citizenship and said, “Freedom – that’s it.”
Kanter also has called Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a “dictator.” In 2019, Turkish authorities filed an international arrest warrant, accusing him of allying with groups that tried to overthrow the Erdogan regime in 2016. He denies the allegations.
It’s Official 🇺🇸
Mr. Freedom 🗽 pic.twitter.com/NPtuRa2q6f
— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) November 30, 2021
In October, China’s video-streaming giant Tencent shut down the live broadcast of a game between Kanter’s Celtics and the New York Knicks after Kanter posted a video on Twitter describing Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” and calling for the independence of Tibet.
China Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissed the NBA player, saying he was “clout-chasing, trying to get attention with Tibet-related issues.”
“Tibet is part of China,” Wang said. “We welcome unbiased friends upholding objectivity across the world to Tibet. In the meanwhile, we never accept the attacks and smears on Tibet’s development.”
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