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Enes Kanter blasts LeBron James over China: ‘Money over Morals for the “King”‘

Associated Press/Nick Wass

NBA player Enes Kanter blasted Lebron James on Twitter Thursday, accusing the superstar of staying silent on Nike’s practices in China while profiting off sneakers made in the country. 

“Money over Morals for the ‘King,’” Kanter tweeted alongside photos of sneakers painted with what appears to be an illustration of Chinese President Xi Jinping placing a crown on James. 

“Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice,” Kanter wrote. “They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss says so,” he added along with an emoji of China’s flag. 

He also called out James, who has a lifetime deal with Nike, for overlooking the company’s alleged practices in China. 

“Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research?” Kanter wrote. 

In 2019, when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the protesters in Hong Kong and the NBA issued an apology, James said that Morey was “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation.”
Since then he’s received flak online for his refusal to speak out against China’s human rights issues. In a separate press conference, James alluded to his activism in the U.S., saying he speaks out against racism and social injustice, but  limits his advocacy to his “own community.”

Kanter, who grew up in Turkey, has been an outspoken critic of both Turkey’s and China’s authoritarian governments, placing a particular focus on China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim and Turkic-speaking minority. 

Nike did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Kanter’s recent admonishment comes just weeks after he called out Nike for speaking out against injustices in the U.S. but staying silent on issues in China. 

“When it comes to China, Nike remains silent,” Kanter said in October. “You do not address police brutality in China. You do not speak about discrimination about the LGBTQ community. You do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China.”

Earlier this month, Kanter called on President Biden to address the “Uyghur Genocide” and “assault on Tibetans” and Hong Kong during his virtual meeting with Xi. 

Kanter said earlier this month during an interview with CNN that he had a conversation with NBA commissioner Adam Silver regarding his activism. “I told him … am I breaking any rules?” Kanter said. “He said, no, you’re not breaking any rules.”

Kanter, who currently plays for the Boston Celtics, also wore sneakers emblazoned with the words “Free Tibet” during a game against the New York Knicks, an act that resulted in the Celtics game being pulled off the air in China.  

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