National Basketball Association (NBA) player Enes Kanter said Monday that he’s becoming a citizen of the United States, “the greatest country in the world.”
“I mean, it’s the greatest country in the world and actually, not many people know this and this is the first time I’m actually saying it on live, and I passed my citizenship test and at the end of this month I’m actually getting sworn in and becoming an official American citizen and I cannot wait.”
Kanter, who cannot return to Turkey where he was born, has been a staunch critic of China and professional athletes who support the communist country. (RELATED: Enes Kanter Wears Shoes Against The Lakers Showing LeBron Kneeling Down To China)
The Boston Celtics center said America values free speech and that is what he tells people who want him to keep silent about human rights abuses in China.
“I wore those Free Tibet shoes, right before the game there’s two gentlemen from the NBA came up to me and said, ‘We are begging you, please take those shoes off,’ and I was like, ‘Listen, am I breaking any rules?”
Kanter said he was told that he was not breaking any rules so he told the unidentified men: “I’m getting ready for my citizenship test, and there’s 27 amendments and my First Amendment is the greatest amendment, freedom of speech.”
He says he told the duo that he would not take the shoes off and was prepared to be fined for not doing so. Kanter says he was told he was potentially not facing a fine but a ban. Kanter says he was ready for that as well.
“It’s just so disgusting to me how one side they can say oh, we’re a social justice organization, but when it comes to this, they’re remaining silent and following what the big, big boss says,” Kanter told Fox. “I’m standing up for human rights and I would say this is bigger than myself and basketball and someone had to do it.” (RELATED: Enes Kanter Says Celebrities Care More About Money From China Than Human Rights)
He blasted those in the public spotlight who are “are scared to say something because they care too much about their deals, their career, their endorsement deals.”
Kanter told CNBC Monday that his opposition to China is not about politics but is based on him being a human rights activist. He has also criticized fellow basketball star LeBron James for putting “money over morals” and American companies “for turning a blind eye toward human rights abuses in China.”