An NBA player has earned the ire of Chinese fans and authorities after posting pro-Tibet messages on social media.
Speaking out: Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter announced in a video posted on Wednesday that he was adding his voice to “speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule.”
- Addressing Chinese President Xi Jinping as “brutal dictator,” the center said, “My message to the Chinese government is ‘Free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans.’”
- The video came out on the same day he wore sneakers emblazoned with the words “Free Tibet” during a game against the New York Knicks. In the video, he wears a shirt with the Dalai Lama on it.
- “I say, ‘Shame on the Chinese government.’ The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture,” Kanter went on.
- In a follow-up video, the player called Jinping the “heartless dictator of China” and urged him to “close down the SLAVE labor camps and free the UYGHUR people!”
- Kanter, who is of Turkish heritage, is one of the NBA’s most outspoken players on socio-political issues.
- His criticisms of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have led to his Turkish passport getting revoked.
- The basketball star has previously expressed fears that his life could be in danger at the hands of Turkish agents.
- His posts have since generated thousands of retweets and messages of support from fans.
Following the post, playback for the Celtics-Knicks game coverage became unavailable on local Chinese streaming platform Tencent, with its sports division further indicating
that upcoming Celtics games will no longer be streamed.
- The platform similarly “punished” the Houston Rockets in 2019 after the team’s then-general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image voicing support for Hong Kong protesters, NextShark previously reported.
- In addition to streaming services, Chinese leagues, sponsors, and partners cut ties with both the Rockets and the NBA.
- A fan account supporting the Celtics on Weibo condemned Kanter’s message and declared that it would no longer post about the team.
- “Resolutely resist any behavior that damages national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!” the account posted.