Outspoken Celtics Veteran Legally Changes His Name: Report

Enes Kanter legally changes name to Enes Kanter Freedom

Getty Enes Kanter #11 of the Boston Celtics reacts after a basket and a foul as teammate Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics looks on.

So long to the NBA player formerly known as Enes Kanter and say hello to Enes Kanter Freedom. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Boston Celtics veteran is legally changing his name, with Kanter now his middle name and Freedom becoming his last. The Swiss-born big man is set to officially become a U.S. citizen on Monday, November 29th.

Born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, the 29-year-old Kanter has been vastly outspoken regarding social injustice in his native Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Back in 2017, he shared on Twitter that his Turkish passport was canceled while traveling overseas. Kanter’s father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, who was a genetics professor at Istanbul University, was at one point sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Turkish government. In 2020, seven years after his arrest, Enes revealed his father was acquitted of terrorism charges and released from prison.

Most recently, the former No. 3 overall pick has been in the news for advocating against alleged human rights violations in China. Kanter has readily taken aim at Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James in recent months, ranging from his business relationship with Nike, whom he accuses of producing sneakers in labor camps, to James’ lack of promotion for the COVID-19 vaccine despite his massive platform.


Kanter’s Criticism of LeBron; Coach Pop Weighs In

Kanter recently sported these custom sneakers in a November 19th victory over the Lakers, in which James is depicted kneeling down to China:

Following the Celtics’ 130-108 victory over the Lakers, James has this to say regarding the Kanter situation:

I don’t give too many people my energy. He’s definitely not someone I would give my energy to. He’s trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself. I definitely won’t comment too much on that. … He’s always had a word or two to say in my direction, and as a man, if you’ve got an issue with somebody, you really come up to him. He had his opportunity tonight. I saw him in the hallway, and he walked right by me.


LeBron James On Enes Kanter: "He's Definitely Not Someone I Will Give My Energy To"LeBron James says Enes Kanter passed him in the hallway before the game, but didn't take the moment to have a discussion about his callout of Nike and LeBron. Subscribe: youtube.com/user/BleacherReport?sub_confirmation=1 Follow on IG: instagram.com/f/bleacherreport Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/bleacherreport Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/bleacherreport #LeBronJames #EnesKanter #NBA2021-11-20T17:49:16Z

While the NBA has remained relatively mute on Kanter’s criticism, one prominent fixture in the league is backing the Celtics center. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich recently praised Kanter for his willingness to step up and speak out regarding human rights abuses.

“I am glad that Enes speaks up when he feels like it. I think it’s great, No reason not to,” Popovich said, via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.

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Kanter Slowly Carving Out a Role in Boston?

While Kanter has made waves in the public eye, he’s had far less of an impact on the hardwood during his second stint with the Celtics. On the heels of logging 1,758 minutes with the Portland Trail Blazers a season ago — his most since 2017-18 — Kanter has averaged 13.2 minutes per game fewer this season in Boston.

Despite his dip in usage, head coach Ime Udoka was sure to make it clear that Kanter’s playing time had nothing to do with his social and political views.

“I don’t have social media. I’ve heard of some things but guys have the right to express their views, and I’ve said that from Day 1,” Udoka said at a November 16th shootaround, via Mass Live. “Nothing basketball-related will be based on any of that.”

Having said that, Kanter has seen an uptick in minutes of late. After logging 11 DNPs and totaling less than 10 minutes over the C’s first 13 games of the season, Kanter has since appeared in seven straight contests, averaging 13 minutes per game.

 


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