Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter was pilloried on Chinese social media and his name appeared to be blocked on the Weibo messaging platform after he criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s treatment of Tibet.
Kanter, who is Turkish, posted a two-minute video of himself on Twitter expressing support for Tibet and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of the Dalai Lama, its exiled spiritual leader.
“I’m here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet. Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent,” Kanter said in the video posted on Wednesday in the US, along with text describing Xi as a “brutal dictator.”
Kanter posted similar messages on his Instagram feed.
On Wednesday, he wore shoes emblazoned with the phrase “Free Tibet” during their game against the New York Knicks, which New York won 138-134.
The shoes’ design was by Baidiucao, a dissident China-born cartoonist and artist based in Australia.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin yesterday told a news briefing that Kanter was “trying to get attention” and that his remarks “were not worth refuting.”
“We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet’s development and progress,” Wang said.
As of midday in China, Kanter’s Chinese-language surname and full name yielded only one result, compared with multiple results earlier in the morning.
Weibo did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the NBA in China did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
The Boston Celtics did not respond to a request for comment sent outside business hours.
A Weibo fan page for the Boston Celtics with more than 650,000 followers wrote that it would cease updating its social feed after Kanter’s posts.
Twitter is blocked in China.
“Any information on the team will cease to appear on this Weibo. Any behavior that undermines the harmony of the nation and the dignity of the motherland, we resolutely resist,” the page’s administrator wrote.
On the Celtics’ official Weibo page, more than 100 comments criticized the club and Kanter, with some calling for him to be sacked.
“I’ve been an old Celtics fan for more than 10 years. After Kanter did this, I won’t support the Celtics team a single day any longer. Between my hobbies and my country, there’s no comparison,” one commenter wrote.
An outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kanter, 29, was indicted in his home country in 2018 on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group, which he denies.
Turkey, which revoked his passport, is seeking his extradition.
In other games, it was:
‧ Hornets 123, Pacers 122
‧ Pelicans 97, 76ers 117
‧ Grizzlies 132, Cavaliers 121
‧ Suns 98, Nuggets 110
‧ Jazz 107, Thunder 86
‧ Raptors 83, Wizards 98
‧ Pistons 88, Bulls 94
‧ T’wolves 124, Rockets 106
‧ Trail Blazers 121, Kings 124
‧ Spurs 123, Magic 97
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