Celtic’s star says NBA officials ‘begged’ him to remove ‘Free Tibet’ shoes before game, he refused

“I’m not taking the shoes off.”

According to Boston Celtic center Enes Kanter Freedom, that is how he responded when staffers from the National Basketball Association approached him moments before a basketball game and pleaded with him to remove his “Free Tibet” sneakers.

“I remember wearing those shoes right before the game… two gentlemen came from the NBA and said, ‘take those shoes off,’” the outspoken Freedom told commentator Megyn Kelly during a recent interview on her Sirius XM show.

According to Freedom, the NBA representatives continued to urge him to remove the sneakers.

“They were like, ‘Listen, I’m begging you to take the shoes off,’” he said. But the basketball player claims that after asking the men directly whether he was violating NBA rules by wearing the shoes, the staffers admitted he wasn’t.

“There are 27 Amendments. My first amendment is freedom of speech and you’re taking that away from me. Go tell your boss, I don’t care if I get banned or fined, I’m not taking the shoes off,” Freedom says he responded to the men.

Eventually, he told Kelly, he was permitted to wear the shoes throughout the game and the men actually apologized to him at halftime.

Freedom said he later spoke with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and asked him, “I’ve been getting so much like blowback and so much pressure from the league, am I breaking any rules?”

When Silver told him he wasn’t in violation of any existing rules, he replied, “Okay then, from now on I don’t want anyone to come from the league to tell me take my shoes off.”

The 29-year-old Turkish national, who became an American citizen last month and is an ardent patriot, has been an outspoken supporter of human rights issues in China and Turkey. He has been exiled from his native Turkey for speaking out against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“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,” he told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “Obviously it’s been a rough six years because the Turkish government revoked my passport and put my name on the INTERPOL list.”

And of late, he has been openly critical of the NBA’s continued association with communist China. Last month, he made headlines when he called out basketball great LeBron James in a tweet for supporting money over morals.

“Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice. They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss Flag of [China] says so,” he wrote. “Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research?”

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