NBA player proudly becomes US citizen, says ignorant critics of America should ‘keep their mouths shut’

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(Video: Fox News)

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom after being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, and the Swiss-born Turkish American player appeared Monday night on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to reflect on his journey to gain citizenship in the “greatest nation in the world.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson teased the segment by noting that a lot of professional athletes in America disparage the country they live in, and he asked the NBA player why he wanted to become an American citizen and why he changed his name.

“I can easily say this is the greatest day of my life. It was my dream the first day I stepped into America after I got my green card,” Kanter said. “Obviously it’s been a rough six years because the Turkish government revoked my passport and put my name on the INTERPOL list.”

Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government reportedly requested an INTERPOL “Red Notice” for him in 2019, which is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition.

He recounted an incident back in 2009 when he was shocked to hear a teammate criticizing the U.S. president and warned the player he could be thrown in jail, only to be reassured with a laugh that he was in America.

“Don’t worry about it. You are not in Turkey anymore,” he recalled the teammate telling him.

Kanter said his teammates were supportive of his desire to become an American because they knew of his problems in Turkey,

“It seems like people who move here from countries that are not free appreciate the freedoms here much more than a lot of us who grew up with those freedoms. Have you noticed that?” Carlson asked his guest.

“People should feel really blessed to be in America. They love to criticize it but when you live in a country like Turkey or China, you appreciate the freedoms you have here,” Kanter said. “I feel like they should just keep their mouth shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world and they should focus on their freedoms and their human rights and democracy.”

After his swearing-in ceremony, Kanter shared video footage of the momentous occasion on Twitter, adding: “I am proud to be an American. Greatest nation in the world. The Land of the free, and home of the brave.”

The Celtics center called out NBA star LeBron James recently on Twitter, slamming King James for a “sad & disgusting” double standard when it comes to China. The tweet included images of the sneakers he planned to wear for an upcoming game against James’ Los Angeles Lakers.

The tweet was motivated by horrific abuses of the Chinese government towards ethnic Uyghurs, who are subjected to unspeakable cruelty and repression, with Kanter expressing disappointment with James choosing money — China is the NBA’s largest market — over taking a stand against human rights atrocities.

Carlson asked Kanter about similar sneakers he wears to call attention to human rights abuses, displaying them on the screen.

“Someone had to do it,” Kanter said. “I will be honest with you. There are so many athletes, so many actors, so many celebrities out there who are scared because if they criticize China, obviously they will be affected. Their endorsement deals, their contracts — or their money will be affected.”

“They are scared to say anything,” he said. “But to me, human rights, democracy, and freedom is way more important than anything they can offer me — morals, values, principles are the most important thing in life. So I wanted to stand up for my Muslim brothers and sisters who are in concentration camps, getting tortured and raped every day… I care about all the innocent people out there who don’t have a voice.”

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Tom Tillison

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