Boston Celtics star Enes Kanter again criticized the Chinese government after wearing a pair of sneakers with the words “Free China” sewn onto them.
Kanter wore the shoes in Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets, marking the third time in a week that he wore the shoes in protest against China. While Kanter did not play in the game, the all-star center could be seen with the shoes on the bench.
The shoes were created by Kanter, who worked with a designer from Shanghai, Badiucao, who often creates artistic pieces against the Chinese regime. Kanter’s other two pairs of shoes, worn in previous games, read “Free Tibet” and “Free Uyghur,” respectively.
On the other side of the “Free China” shoes, you could see a caricature of Kanter holding Winnie the Pooh’s head. The character of beloved children is often used to make fun of Chinese President Xi Jinping because of their supposed physical resemblance.
The South China Morning Post reported that the comparison upsets Xi so much that artistic performances of the two are banned in China.
The shoes also featured Winnie the Pooh’s head atop a series of chariots, a reminder of the Chinese government’s takeover of Tiananmen Square in 1989. The moment became one of the most iconic scenes. of the 20th century and has also been the subject of censorship by the Chinese media.
Kanter posted a photo of the shoes on social media, saying someone needs to hold the Chinese accountable for their actions.
“Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, someone has to teach you a lesson,” Kanter tweeted. “I will NEVER apologize for telling the truth.”
“You CANNOT buy me. You CANNOT scare me. You CANNOT silence me,” Kanter wrote.
This is not the first time that Kanter, among other National Basketball Association (NBA) players, has spoken out against China. Kanter is one of the league’s most vocal activists and has called Xi a “brutal dictator.”
Kanter himself is a practicing Muslim and has also protested the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China through his shoes. The United Nations has reported that up to 1 million Uyghurs have been sent to detention camps in China.
Kanter, who was born into a Turkish family, also criticized the actions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter previously tweeted that Erdogan was the “Hitler of our century”.
While a member of the New York Knicks in 2019, he refused to travel with his teammates for a game in London because he told the BBC he feared for his life in Europe.
China repelled the actions of Kanter and others, and the South china Morning message reported that Chinese state television did not broadcast any NBA games during the 2021-22 season.
Tencent, the Chinese broadcasting company that broadcasts NBA games in that country, also stopped broadcasting Boston Celtics games after the incident.
Additionally, Chinese social media platform Weibo has reportedly seen numerous posts calling for Kanter to be punished or banned from playing basketball.
News week has contacted the NBA and the Boston Celtics for comment.