Celtics

Enes Freedom would like to sit down for a ‘very uncomfortable’ conversation with LeBron James

"I don’t know if he’s educated enough, but I’m here to educate him."

Enes Kanter
Celtics center Enes Freedom changed his name from Enes Kanter, to Enes Kanter Freedom, in celebration of him officially becoming a United States citizen on Monday. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

If LeBron James wants to have a conversation with Enes Freedom — formerly Enes Kanter before he became a citizen of the United States on Monday — Freedom says he’s ready.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a very uncomfortable conversation for him,” Freedom said. “I don’t know if he’s educated enough, but I’m here to educate him, and I’m here to help him.”

Freedom called out James earlier this year for his partnership with Nike — a company Freedom has targeted repeatedly for alleged supply-chain ties to human rights violations. After the Celtics played the Lakers, James claimed Freedom walked right by him without speaking.

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Freedom disputed that version of events, saying he stopped to take a picture with a kid, and James was the one who walked by.

“Players need to do their research, and they have to educate themselves before they put their signature on the paper and sign the lifetime deals and stuff, because obviously everybody knows how I feel about some of the sponsors we have,” Freedom said. “Nike, to me [is] the biggest hypocrite company out there. … I feel like we need to be careful of what we are wearing, because every time you put those items on your feet or back, there’s so much blood or sweat or oppression on those items. So be careful.”

Here are a few other takeaways from Freedom’s press conference.

He doesn’t regret going on Tucker Carlson.

Freedom made an appearance on the controversial Fox News host’s program on Monday after becoming a citizen, where he was criticized on Twitter for saying Americans who criticize America should “just keep their mouth shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world” and “focus on their freedoms and their human rights and democracy.”

He defended his decision to go on Carlson’s show to reporters on Tuesday.

“I never had a side,” Freedom said. “I’m not a Democrat, or I’m not a Republican. You know I’ve said it from Day 1. Some of the things I do, people might be mistaken, because I don’t do politics. I do human rights. There is a thin but huge line between human rights and politics.”

He had a productive conversation with Adam Silver

Freedom caused a headache for the league when his stance resulted in the Celtics being pulled from television in China. He said he had a conversation with Adam Silver about his shoes, which have stirred up much of the drama.

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“I was like, ‘If there’s any rules that I’m breaking or I’m violating, let me know. I’ll be the first one to follow,’” Freedom said. “And he said, ‘No, you’re not violating any rules.’ And I was like, ‘Adam, you guys are the ones that are telling us and encouraging players to stand up for what’s right, not just the problems in America, but all over the world. So you guys are the ones that encouraged me to talk about all the violations that are happening all over the world, right?’ And he was like, ‘Listen, you have the freedom to say whatever you want.’

“And I was like, ‘I appreciate that.’”

He added that the Celtics — particularly his teammates — have been very supportive. After he claimed on social media that he was benched for his stances, he talked to Ime Udoka, who told him that wasn’t the reason.

“After that talk, I’ve played every game,” Freedom said. “I mean, yeah, that’s how I felt, and I put it out there, and Coach Ime came to me and said that’s not the situation. And I said, ‘OK.’ And after that talk, I pretty much played every game.”

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It should be noted that Robert Williams has played just two games since Freedom re-entered the rotation, and he was injured halfway through one of them.

He’s thrilled to be a citizen

Freedom signed the paperwork to become a citizen on Monday, waving a small American flag after the judge made it official.

On Tuesday, he told a brief story about being shocked when a teammate called out the president in 2009, telling him to be careful.

“He turned around and started laughing at me,” Freedom said. “He was like, ‘Brother don’t worry about it. This is not Turkey.’

“But in America, obviously, people are very blessed to be in this situation. They have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of press.”

His preferred moniker?

“Mr. Freedom,” Freedom said with a chuckle.

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