Enes Kanter Freedom says a teammate of LeBron James has told him to keep the heat on the Lakers superstar.
Kanter Freedom appeared on the Fox News “Will Cain Podcast” and said that he was privately encouraged by one of James’ teammates to keep speaking out about the controversial partnership between the NBA and China.
“One of the teammates that LeBron had came up to me and said, ‘Dude, keep doing what you’re doing. What you’re doing is right. Don’t give up.’
“I was very shocked. I thought he was gonna be like, ‘Dude stop talking.’ He’s going to try to defend LeBron, right? He’s like, ‘Dude, do not stop.”
When there was hubbub after Daryl Morey, then the general manager of the Rockets and now of the Sixers, tweeted to Free Hong Kong, LeBron James criticized him for it.
“Daryl Morey made these statements, you know damn well if a player made similar statements and caused such poor ramifications for the league, there would be some sort of league recourse,” James reportedly said in a private meeting that included NBA commissioner Adam Silver at the time.
According to ESPN, James added: “There would be repercussions that the player would have to pay. Potentially, this tweet could cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars, which could come out of the players pockets.”
Publicly, James said Morey was “misinformed” and “not educated” about the geopolitical news in which Hong Kong citizens were protesting incursions on their freedom by the Chinese Communist Party.
James, through his Nike sneaker sponsorship and TV and film deals, has done a lot of business directly or indirectly with China.
Freedom, who is from Turkey, has spoken out against authoritarian regimes, and wore sneakers that trolled LeBron James by featuring him bowing to CCP leader Xi Jinping. He has also worn sneakers supporting the Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority who have reportedly been subjected to slave labor and forced sterilizations by Chinese leadership.
Speaking with Cain, Freedom said he was approached by LeBron’s teammate during free throws.
“You know, he said to me, on the free throw line, he said, ‘I have so much things that I want to say, but I cannot because these teams got us.’
“If you want another contract, if you want more endorsement deals, if you want other companies to work with you, you have to keep your mouth shut. You cannot criticize the league, the companies, Nike or whoever or the players, or superstars.
“I was very happy that he said it, but same time, I’m like, dude, come on, man. There’s not one player that wants to join me. That made me, like, really sad.”