Former NBA player turned human rights advocate Enes Kanter Freedom has shared his political ambitions for the future, eyeing a potential run for U.S. Congress in 2028.
Mr. Freedom, the Swiss-born, Turkish-raised athlete, changed his surname to Freedom to mark a new chapter in his life when he became a U.S. citizen in 2021.
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Speaking at the recent FreedomFest conference in Memphis, Tennessee, the former NBA player was met with cheers from the libertarian crowd when asked about his potential run for office.
Mr. Freedom said that he wants to run in a state that values freedom and quipped about the electorate also enjoying plenty of sunshine and beaches. However, he believes that the current division within the country makes it too early for him to launch a political campaign.
“I will say it’s a little too early for me to run because right now, unfortunately, our country is so divided,” he told Fox News. “Once you get into politics, you lose 50 percent of the people.”
Despite the enthusiasm from some members on Capitol Hill, urging him to bring his voice to Congress or the Senate, Mr. Freedom said that he plans to wait for the right time to enter politics. He hinted that 2028 is a more likely year for his potential candidacy.
Mr. Freedom identified education as the number one priority he would focus on if he were to run for office. He stressed the importance of providing better opportunities for the younger generation to ensure a brighter future.
Mr. Freedom also expressed his commitment to promoting freedom and raising awareness about censorship issues.
“I just want to show people that how blessed and how good we have it in this country,” said Mr. Freedom.
“We got to do whatever we can to beat that,” he added, referring to censorship in the United States. “So I’m just going to do whatever I can to just, you know, get rid of that.”
$50 Million Cost of Speaking Out
Mr. Freedom embarked on his NBA career in 2011, starting with the Utah Jazz and wrapping up his career as a center with the Boston Celtics. However, he was sidelined in 2022 after expressing opposition to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with China being a significant market for the NBA.
At a July 11 hearing before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mr. Freedom claimed to have lost approximately $50 million in salaries and potential endorsements after his NBA career ended.
“According to my manager, I lost around $50 million dollars, with all the NBA contracts and endorsement deals that I could’ve signed,” the sportsman said.
“I sleep in peace at night knowing that I did the right thing. My only question is: How can the biggest dictatorship in the world, China, control an 100 percent American-made company and fire an American citizen?” he added.
Mr. Freedom said he is concerned about the fear among NBA players to express their beliefs in the face of “cancel culture.” He said NBA players fear repercussions in the form of lost contracts and endorsement deals.
Speaking to Fox News, Mr. Freedom reflected on the patriotism of Americans, recounting an incident in the locker room where his teammates “were calling America trash, and they were saying some really harsh things about America.”
He challenged their perspective by offering to show them the living conditions in countries like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and North Korea, highlighting the liberties and opportunities that the United States offers.
“People need to understand that how good we have it in this country,” Mr. Freedom said.
The upcoming 2024 presidential election will mark the first time Mr. Freedom is eligible to vote in the United States.
While he remained coy about revealing his favorite candidate, he mentioned that he has met with many of them. His main hope is to see a candidate who can unite the country and lead it to even greater heights.
“I just hope that whoever is going to unite this country and whoever is going to make this country even better than it is wins,” Mr. Freedom said.
Mr. Freedom has been vocal about human rights violations in Turkey for the past 11 years, including concerns about his own relatives being prosecuted under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. He later shifted his activism toward China after being questioned by a parent at a basketball camp in New York about his silence on alleged abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups by the CCP.
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The United States has also accused the CCP of genocide. China has repeatedly dismissed the claims as a smear campaign.
Mr. Freedom made headlines for denouncing human rights abuses in China, including labeling CCP leader Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator,” resulting in Celtics games being banned from Chinese media.
He also called for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses in the country.
Katabella Roberts contributed to this report. Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.