Basketball star Enes Kanter Freedom pleaded for a fellow player to join him in taking a stand against the NBA’s connections to communist China Friday on “The Ingraham Angle.” Enes Kanter Freedom: Human rights violations happen all around the world. We have to call them out like it is. And… for the NBA, moral[ity] matter[s] until money or business are involved. So that is the one thing that was breaking my heart. And all these owners — there are 50 NBA owners — are making profit off of slave labor.
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On Sunday, Enes Freedom went further, claiming on Twitter that the Celtics, too, asked him not to don his human rights footwear. Not so, says Brad Stevens, who told the Herald on Tuesday that the Celtics’ only initial question involved whether the sneakers violated the NBA’s uniform policy, which it quickly determined they did not. But the Celtics president stressed that he has never stepped in the way of a player expressing his political beliefs.
“Here’s exactly what happened,” said Stevens. “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. I said I think that he’s fine, and let me double check with the NBA to see if there’s any uniform violation. 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.”
Brad Stevens: “I talked to him the next day, and I said you know I’ve always supported your right to express yourself, to speak on whatever you speak on. Just let me know in advance, so I’m not checking on these things in the middle of the first quarter from my couch at home. We didn’t talk about anything after that, because we weren’t checking from that point forward. Wear whatever you want.”
Enes Kanter Freedom believes his open criticism of the NBA is the reason he is no longer on a roster, but he clearly is not going to let that silence him. Freedom blasted the NBA and the Boston Celtics on Twitter Sunday for picking and choosing which human rights movements to support. The 29-year-old called his former team “hypocrites” for wearing Ukraine pins. Freedom said he also supports Ukraine but noted that the Celtics “begged” him to not wear anti-China sneakers a few months ago. “Who chooses whose lives are more important?” Freedom wrote. “Is there not much profit from Russia?”
Enes FREEDOM: Hypocrites! 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 there but not in other countries? Is there not much profit from Russia?
Enes FREEDOM: How is it fair when I wore shoes to bring awareness about Human Rights violations around the world, @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?
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August 9, 2022 | 6:25 pm EDT Update
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the meeting took place this past Saturday, and Kevin Durant indicated that he could stay with Brooklyn if general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash were no longer there. Understandably, peers of Marks and Nash were not happy. “I get that players have more power these days, but I think it’s a little too far if he’s out here trying to get Steve fired,” said one coach, who was quickly reminded of Magic Johnson’s fingerprints on Paul Westhead’s firing back in November of 1981 and other power plays, some of which may well have been justified.
The head of basketball ops from another club was similarly displeased. “Livid,” he said. “Livid. He and Kyrie (Irving) basically told Sean they were coming (as free agents in 2019), and Sean did pretty much everything they wanted after that. Signing DeAndre Jordan for four years? That’s something Kyrie and KD wanted. Getting James Harden? Then getting a guy who should be a perfect complement to them (Ben Simmons) when Harden wanted out? Sean did all that.”
However, when asked if he would welcome Durant to his own club should he be attainable at a fair price, the exec paused and laughed. “Well … ” he said. “OK, you got me there. But, see, that’s the part of this that will always be hard for some people to grasp. I’m talking about the fans who just see the players as employees. These guys are not interchangeable parts. You can’t just plug in someone else to do what KD does.”
Marc Stein: Dallas plans to hire former NBA swingman Marko Milič — Slovenia’s first NBA player — to join the coaching staff in player development, league sources confirm. Milič obviously knows Luka Dončić well and played with Jason Kidd in Phoenix. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Detroit Pistons center Kelly Olynyk is a married man! The basketball star, 31, wed his longtime love Jackie McNulty, 31, in a traditional, yet playful, outdoor ceremony at Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez, California Saturday, as personal guests of the winery’s owners.