Basketballer Enes Kanter Freedom Eyeing Political Run

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
February 25, 2023Politics
Basketballer Enes Kanter Freedom Eyeing Political Run
American basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom poses during an interview with AFP at the United Nations Office in Geneva on April 5, 2022. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

NBA free agent and outspoken human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom said on Thursday that he is considering a run for political office and has been in conversations with friends and members of Congress about the potential run.

Kanter Freedom appeared for an interview on Fox Business on Thursday, during which host Maria Bartiromo asked if he had any interest in a run for public office.

“I actually do, yes,” Kanter Freedom replied. “I would actually, when the time is right. And shout out to whoever is out there actually listening.”

During the interview, Kanter Freedom did not specify which political party he would prefer to run under or any details about his platform. That said, the professional basketball player has been vocal about a number of human rights concerns around the world in recent years.

Bartiromo asked if he was already preparing his campaign and raising money.

“Not yet, but I’ve started to have conversations with some of my friends and members of Congress,” Kanter Freedom said.

Human Rights Activism

Born as Enes Kanter, he changed his last name to Freedom in November 2021 as he celebrated gaining U.S. citizenship.

Kanter Freedom is a native of Turkey but his home country revoked his passport in 2017 following his criticisms of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter Freedom had referred to Erdogan as the “Hitler of our century.”

Kanter Freedom has also raised concerns about human rights issues in China. Kanter Freedom has specifically spoken up about the detention of ethnic minority Uyghurs in western China and its treatment of the Tibetan people.

At times, Kanter Freedom’s activism has put him at odds with his basketball career.

After Kanter Freedom called China’s leader Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and criticized the Chinese regime’s treatment of the Tibetan people, China canceled broadcasts of Boston Celtics games. Just weeks later, Kanter Freedom accused the Chinese regime of murdering people to harvest their organs, specifically targeting Tibetans, Uyghurs, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners.

Last year, the Boston Celtics traded Kanter Freedom to the Houston Rockets who immediately released him from the team.

The Rockets also have a history of pitting the NBA at odds with their business interests in China. In 2019, then-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shared a tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong who opposed Beijing expanding its authority over the city. Morey deleted the tweet and the league apologized to “fans and sponsors” in China.

Kanter Freedom has remained a free agent ever since he was released by the Rockets last year. After he was released, Kanter Freedom accused the NBA of silencing him over his criticisms of the Chinese regime and the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The NBA has continued its efforts to expand into China. Earlier this week, the league launched a new partnership with the Chinese financial technology firm Ant Group (previously known as Ant Financial) to bring more NBA league content to the potentially lucrative Chinese market. In another interview with Fox News this week, Kanter Freedom addressed the NBA’s partnership with the Chinese firm, saying the NBA “at this point is China’s lapdog.”

“The NBA will care about human rights and social justice until it hits their pocket,” Kanter Freedom added. “As soon as you say anything against the Chinese government or Chinese human right abuses, they’re going to do whatever they can to silence you.”

Political Leanings

This week, journalist Aaron Rupar posted on Twitter a clip of one of Kanter Freedom’s recent Fox News appearances, saying “Enes Freedom’s transition to Fox talking head is almost complete.”

Kanter Freedom replied, “I appear on left and right outlets. As a biased journalist, you’d prefer if I only spoke about views that further YOUR agenda. The only difference between you and Russian propaganda is that you work in the U.S. Don’t be ignorant @atrupar and carry on!”

It remains to be seen if Kanter Freedom will announce a political run and which party he may choose.