Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter Freedom is continuing his very public criticism of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. Freedom has criticized James for his partnership with Nike given their relationship with China.
During an interview with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, Freedom detailed why he has been so vocal in his critique of James.
“I don’t know if he’s educated enough, but I’m here to educate him and I’m here to help him, because it’s not about money,” Freedom noted during the December 1 interview. “It’s about morals, principles and values. It’s about what you stand for. There are way bigger things than money. If LeBron stopped making money now, his grandkids and grandkids and grandkids can have the best life ever. I feel like it’s definitely time for athletes to stand up for the things they believe in — not just in America — but all over the world.”
Earlier this week, Freedom (formerly known as Kanter) formally changed his last name to Freedom after becoming a U.S. citizen.
“I wanted to make that word part of me, because that (is) the word that I fought for my whole life,” Freedom explained. “That (is) the word that I try to stand up (for) my whole life.”
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Freedom on James: ‘Money Over Morals for the ‘King”
Freedom indirectly brought James into the conversation after wearing shoes with an unflattering caricature of the Lakers star, depicting his relationship with China. James noted that he had no plans to “give my energy to” Freedom, adding that the Celtics big man did not say anything to him in-person when he had the opportunity.
“No, I think if you know me, I don’t really give too many people my energy, and he’s definitely not someone I would give my energy to, trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself,” James noted during a November 19 press conference. “Definitely won’t comment too much on that, if any and that’ll be where I lay that at.
“You know, he’s always kind of had a word or two to say in my direction and as a man, if you got an issue with somebody, you really come up to him. He had his opportunity tonight, I seen him in the hallway and walked right by me, so.”
Freedom tweeted an image of the shoe and criticized James without using his name directly.
“Money over Morals for the ‘King,'” Freedom noted in a November 18 tweet. “Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice. They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss says so. Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research?”
Freedom Did Not Try to Approach James When the Lakers-Celtics Played in November
James and Freedom have conflicting accounts of what happened prior to the November 19 Lakers-Celtics game. According to The Athletic, Freedom did not make an attempt to approach James.
“James criticized Freedom after the game for not coming to speak with him directly when they were in the tunnel heading back to the locker room,” Weiss detailed. “On Tuesday, Freedom said he stopped to take a photo with a fan when James was walking behind him and the Lakers star passed without saying anything. However, The Athletic watched Freedom initially run by James as both were preparing to exit the court pregame and there was no interaction.
“Freedom said he would love to sit down and talk to James when the Celtics visit the Lakers on their upcoming road trip, acknowledging it will be a ‘very uncomfortable conversation.’ Prior to those comments, Freedom said players need to do their own research before signing lifetime deals, a specific reference to James’ contract with Nike.”
Freedom was slated to have another opportunity to speak with James when the Lakers get a rematch against the Celtics on December 7. The meeting is now even more unlikely given James is in the league’s COVID protocols.