Mr. Freedom Made a Promise to His Mother (Ep. 314)

Enes Kanter lost his dream job, along with at least $50 million in future salary and God only knows how much in endorsements. He hasn’t seen his family in ten years and lives every day as a wanted criminal. Currently, there are ten arrest warrants looming over his head, along with a $700,000 bounty, courtesy of the Turkish government. Why? Because Enes, a new citizen of America, spoke out against the actions of a brutal dictator over there. Then, he wore some shoes on the basketball court that expressed his support for a free Tibet. Then, he wore another pair of shoes expressing his opposition to a concentration camp in China, where lots of people are being routinely murdered and raped to this day. And that, given their allegiance to China, was just too much for the NBA to accept. Enes was told to change his shoes. He refused. So, he was benched. And nothing has been the same since.

I met Enes last year and saw him speak at an event in Florida. His story will inspire you, anger you, and make you wonder why so many basketball fans tolerate the NBA’s willingness to lick the boots of their Chinese partners with such enthusiasm, while being so transparently hypocritical with their own players. Athletes wearing shoes that support BLM, or sport phrases like “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” or “I Can’t Breathe?” No problem. In fact, those expressions of free speech were affirmatively encouraged. But Free Tibet? No. Speak out against a brutal dictator of a communist regime with your footwear? Nope. That’s unacceptable.

I realize that all of us, to some degree, are beholden to China. We buy their goods, we sell them our land, and we rely on them for far too much – especially for our tech and medical necessities. But you really have to love the game of basketball – I mean, really, really, really love it – to look past the NBA’s incredibly shabby treatment of a man who loves this country more than most people who were born here. A man who changed his name to Freedom, and walked away from everything he worked so hard to attain. A man who refused to turn a blind eye the brutality of the Chinese government, or, like so many others in the league, publicly excuse it. A man who learned the hard way that freedom of speech isn’t free, especially in the wide world of sports. Frankly, the NBA doesn’t deserve him. But this country is lucky to have him.

The entire episode is here.

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