Updated: Feb 3
In a profession in which grown men are paid millions of dollars a year to play a boy’s game, it is refreshing to hear an NBA star extol the virtues of the country that gives him that opportunity. Recently, Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics was sworn-in as a U.S. citizen, and to celebrate his citizenship, Kanter officially changed his name to “Enes Kanter Freedom.” I think it’s fair to say many professional athletes are self-indulgent, pampered, overpaid prima donnas who need a reality check. The 29-year-old Kanter, a native of Turkey, provided that recently when he disclosed that in his former homeland he was denied basic freedoms that Americans too often take for granted. Kanter said the Turkish government took away his passport in 2017. He told Boston 25 News that “America has taught him so much, here people should be blessed. You have freedom of speech, freedom of the press and I want to carry that word(freedom) with me everywhere I go.” Kanter isn’t the first NBA star to officially change his name. Lloyd Free, who played for the Philadelphia 76er’s in the 1970’s, changed his name to World B. Free. More recently, Ron Artest decided to call himself Metta World Peace. Both men could knock down the open jumper, especially Free, but Artest didn’t live up to his sobriquet. He served the longest suspension in NBA history for his part in a brawl with Detroit Pistons players that eventually spilled over into the stands and involved several fans. Artest also spent some time in jail on a domestic violence charge. Contrast Kanter Freedom’s statements and attitude with those of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and current NBA great Lebron James. Both men play the race card when it suits them; Kaepernick gained notoriety after taking a knee during the national anthem prior to the start of his games to protest what he says is police violence against young black men. James has also claimed police routinely racially profile people of color. Kaepernick and James also make millions of dollars off the sale of Nike products, especially those sold in China. For two men so concerned about social justice and human rights abuses, they are conspicuously silent when it comes to the world’s most brutal abuser of human rights. Kanter spoke out recently about the communist regime cracking down on basic human freedoms and the Chinese government promptly responded by canceling the airing of all Celtic games in that nation. Kanter normally doesn’t get political, he is just happy to be playing for one of the great franchises in all of sports, and living out his dream of residing in a country that cherishes individual liberty and the natural rights granted to us by our Creator.