Former Boston Celtics center Enes Freedom isn’t afraid to share his controversial opinions on social media platforms. However, this time, his former team was in his crosshairs, thus triggering a vehement response from the president of Celtics basketball operations, Brad Stevens.
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Enes Freedom Calls Celtics ‘Hypocrites,’ Claims Team ‘Begged’ Him to Remove Controversial Sneakers
During the Celtics’ matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, Freedom called out the team’s coaching staff for donning blue-and-white ribbons, which honored Ukraine.
“Hypocrites!” Freedom tweeted. “I see Celtics coaching staff wearing Ukrainian flag pins, which I support. What about Syria, Afghanistan, Uyghurs, Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan. Why is it okay to speak up about human rights violations but not in other countries? Is there not much profit from Russia?”
Then, Freedom took things a step further. Enes claimed the Celtics “begged” him to remove his controversial sneakers, which included politically-fueled messages such as “Free Tibet,” “Free Hong Kong,” and “No Beijing 2022.”
“How is it fair when I wore shoes to bring awareness about Human Rights violations around the world,” Freedom tweeted out. “Celtics begged me to remove them and threatened to ban me; Celtics now wear Ukrainian flag pins. Who approved this @NBPA/@NBA? Who chooses whose lives are more important?”
Brad Stevens Shares His Side: ‘Here’s Exactly What Happened…’
In an exclusive conversation with the Boston Herald, Stevens told his story.
“Here’s exactly what happened,” Stevens told Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy. “I was actually at home, and when he decided to wear the sneakers, there was some concern — and I didn’t even know until the end of the first quarter — that there was a potential uniform or dress code violation. I don’t know what was said — I can’t imagine that phrasing was said — but the question to me was what to do about Enes’ shoes.”
For Brad, the NBA’s uniform policy was his only concern regarding Freedom’s shoes and the messages it shared.
“I said I think that he’s fine, and let me double-check with the NBA to see if there’s any uniform violation,” Stevens continued. “Double-checked, fine, and he wore those the rest of the game, and he wore whatever he wanted the rest of the year. It’s interesting because I feel really good that we truly sat here and supported him and his right to express himself and his freedom of speech, and I even told him the next day that you know I’ve always done that.”
The Celtics president of basketball operations also reminded everyone that Freedom, who was traded with veteran guard Dennis Schroder to the Houston Rockets last month, leaving Boston was solely about improving his Celtics roster.
“When we decided to trade Enes, it was 1,000% a basketball decision,” Stevens said. “Obviously, the opportunity to bring Theis back with our defensive identity, and his mobility and the ability to play the way we wanted to as an eighth or ninth guy just made too much sense for us.”
The Rockets waived Freedom shortly after they traded with the Celtics.