ESPN – 21 October 2021
Boston Celtics games have been pulled off Chinese media after center Enes Kanter tweeted a two-minute video of himself expressing support for Tibet and wore shoes with the phrase “Free Tibet” on them during Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks.
“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 nonexistent,” Kanter said in the video posted Wednesday on Twitter and Instagram. He called Chinese President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” in the text when he posted the video and wore a shirt with the image of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
He followed that by wearing shoes designed by Badiucao, a dissident China-born cartoonist and artist based in Australia.
Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said 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,” said the spokesman.
The Washington, D.C.-based office of His Holiness The Dalai Lama released a statement to ESPN later in the day that read in part: “We are thankful to Enes Kantor, NBA player for speaking in support of Tibet. In a two minutes video message he summed up the existential threat faced by the Tibetans under Chinese communist rule. Every word that he said is true.”
The statement also noted that Kanter’s “courageous act” of advocating on behalf of Tibetan independence came “at the huge risk to his personal life and career.”