On Monday, Kanter was back on Twitter, this time accusing Nike for producing sneakers in labor camps. The next day, he invited Nike’s president Phil Knight and NBA legends Michael Jordan and Lebron James to visit the factories. While the NBA and Nike did not comment immediately, and did not respond to Sportico’s requests for comment, Kanter’s statements resulted in Chinese video streaming platform Tencent cutting the live broadcast of the Celtics’ games last week. Tencent signed a five-year, $1.5 billion deal to remain the NBA’s digital partner in China in 2019. The state controlled station CCTV has been the sole broadcaster of the NBA games since 1990s.
“The best way to make people care to change this indifference situation is to make people view those messages and make campaigns relevant,” said Badiucao, who has been criticizing China for the last two decades and supports Kanter’s move to expand his message beyond Turkey. Born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter is a devout member of the Hizmet Movement and a follower of its leader, Fethullah Gulen, accused of the failed coup attempt in 2016. The Turkish government revoked Kanter’s Turkish passport in 2017. “When you’re not coming from the country that is suffering from authoritarian regimes, like China, it’s hard for you to care or understand truly,” Badiucao said. Using the “NBA as a platform, or sports to convey these human rights messages, is just magical. Because now suddenly, it is a topic for every NBA fan in America and around the world.”