NBA Commish denies blackballing Kanter’s freedom and rejects criticism of China

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has dismissed claims his league ratted out China critic and former Celtic critic Enes Kanter Freedom in a blackball New York Times Article published on Thursday.

Freedom, who is currently unemployed, made headlines this season for wearing sneakers that criticized the Chinese government while playing for Boston. Due to the NBA’s numerous and lucrative business dealings with the communist government, fans and media became suspicious when Kanter Freedom saw his playing time conspicuously reduced after donning the protest sneakers.

Complimentary Uyghur sneakers worn by Enes Kanter Freedom (Image: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Despite signing a significant contract with Boston after 72 games and averaging over 24 minutes a night for Portland, Kanter Freedom barely played 11 minutes a game in 35 contests with the Celtics before being traded and fired.

Freedom has not signed to a new roster since its release.

Despite the troubling circumstances surrounding his playing tenure and his eventual release, Silver dismissed any suggestion that Freedom was expelled because of his political beliefs.

“We spoke directly about his activities this season,” Silver said Times“and I’ve made it absolutely clear to him that he has every right to speak out on issues that are close to his heart.”

Freedom denied the commissioner’s account of their conversation, adding that it was the players’ union that muzzled him.

“Rather than stand up for me, I came across the union, who told me to shut up and stop talking about human rights abuses in China,” Freedom said New York Times.

Freedom added, “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see why I was short on game time and got fired. But it takes people with a conscience to speak up and say it’s not right.”

However, Silver did not limit his comments on China to the Enes Kanter Freedom situation. Instead, the commissioner targeted critics who he believes are unfairly targeting his league for its dealings with the world’s leading human rights abuser.

Commissioner Adam Silver presents the Kobe Bryant MVP Trophy during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 20, 2022 in...

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Silver pointed out that “virtually every major US company” does business in China.

“Why is the NBA being singled out as the only company that should boycott China now?” said Silber.

Silver dismissed comparisons between the NBA’s withdrawal from Russia and suggestions the league should do the same with China, insisting that the United States government initiate a boycott of Russia.

“It’s very difficult for the League to do foreign policy,” Silver explained.

However, as a private company, the NBA does not need a US government boycott to force the league to back off from dealings with the communist country.

And while it’s true that “virtually every major US company” does business in China, among sports leagues, the NBA has far more ties to China than any of its competitors. Major League Baseball is trying to expand its business ties with China, but those deals are not nearly as numerous or lucrative as the NBA’s. The NFL is much more busy marketing its game in Mexico and Europe, and the NHL has yet to gain a foothold in Xi Jinping’s police state.

Additionally, for the past two years, the NBA has sought, and in many ways secured, a place as America’s premier social justice league. So why not take a closer look when the league that claims to work for human rights and justice makes hundreds of millions of dollars annually doing business with the world’s most notorious human rights and justice fugitive?

Freedom, a recent US citizen, last played an NBA game on February 8th.

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