Enes Kanter Freedom believes the NBA wants him to retire due to his political outspokenness.
The 30-year-old center played 35 games with the Celtics last season, averaging 3.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, before being traded to Houston and subsequently waived. He’s made headlines for his criticism of the league and LeBron James’s relationship with China, but Freedom’s play has also fallen off dramatically from a few years ago when he was a reliable piece off the bench on a playoff team in Oklahoma City.
“They’re pushing me to retire at the age of 30, unfortunately,” Freedom told TMZ. “I’m going to push through it. I’m still working out. I’m still practicing.
“But the one thing I can say is, the NBA and [commissioner] Adam Silver is definitely one of the most hypocritical organizations and one of the most hypocritical commissioners out there in the world.”
An NBA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Enes Kanter FreedomAP
Kanter did credit players in both the NBA and WNBA for advocating on behalf of Brittney Griner, who is currently imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, but said the US government should be doing more on her behalf.
“They definitely need to do more because you’re dealing with, like I said again, one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world,” Freedom said. “Human rights is above politics, so I’m going to do whatever I can to bring awareness and be the voice of all the innocent people who don’t have a voice.”
Freedom has been a target of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime in his native Turkey, leading to an extradition request and issues when Freedom has traveled in Europe.Enes Kanter Freedom’s sneakers during a Celtics-Hornets game on Jan. 19, 2022.MediaNews Group via Getty Images
His political advocacy has increased since then, extending to criticism of China’s Xi Jinping and the NBA’s relationship with the country.
“They stand up for things until it affects their money or business,” Freedom told TMZ. “And someone had to exposed them, and someone finally exposed them and from firsthand.”