With Enes Kanter's recent comments on social issues outside of basketball, it seems he is more active off the court than inside it. Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka claims it's a basketball decision, but fans can't help but wonder if Kanter is being targeted because of his political beliefs.
Enes Kanter's activism
The history of Kanter's outspoken views on politics started when the government of Turkey branded him a persona-non-grata, canceled his passport, and called his family terrorists because of his human rights advocacies. Enes' family, who came from Turkey, were reportedly harassed. The Boston Celtics center has not been home for a few years now, and even in the U.S., he feels the aftermath of his fallout with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He missed international games for fears of his safety, but that did not stop him from saying things that he believed were right.
The 29-year-old also commented on how Nike turned a blind eye to the atrocities happening in China where the apparel maker allegedly uses forced labor to increase profits. He also blasted LeBron James' refusal to get involved in the NBA's vaccination campaign for players.
Kanter is threading a risky path here. He's aware of the possible outcome of his opinions, but he continues to do it. It's his right to use his platform to get the message across. However, Enes must be prepared on how it would affect his career.
Ime Udoka on Kanter's limited minutes
This season, Kanter's activities on the basketball court are down because he has not been given the minutes. He's only played in two games and averages 5 minutes of playing time. His 2 points per game average are the lowest numbers of his career. Some fans think that Enes has been grounded by the Celtics or the NBA to avoid further controversies. However, coach Udoka issued a statement to clear the matter.
"My thing is strictly basketball. We're switching a lot and doing some things that probably are not as natural for him and that's limited his time to some extent … Nothing basketball related will be based on [social media]."
Ime Udoka, Chris Forsberg Twitter
It's not impossible to link Kanter's comments to China with his reduced appearances on the court. China is a major partner of the league in terms of TV viewership and sponsorships; souring the ties between them would put millions in market value in peril.
Starting center Al Horford is enjoying a resurgence this year with Boston. He is averaging 12.7 points and 8.8 rebounds so far. His exemplary performance may have also affected Udoka's decision to use Enes Kanter so sparingly.
Fans are hoping to see him in some games in the future. After all, Kanter is a good guy and a good role player who can make an impact on and off the floor.