Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter on Tuesday hit back at NBA star LeBron James for his critical comments about the Houston Rockets general manager whose tweet about Hong Kong protesters caused an uproar in China.
James waded into the controversy Monday when he was asked if he thought Daryl Morey should be disciplined for his tweet supporting pro-democracy Hong Kong protests.
“I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James said. “So many people could have been harmed, not just financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.”
After the comment sparked a firestorm on social media, James clarified his remarks.
“I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet,” James tweeted. “I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that.”
Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 14, 2019
Kanter, who is Turkish and a longtime critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, responded to James’s initial comments with a series of tweets on Tuesday.
“Wow dude!” Kanter wrote before listing what he said were repercussions for speaking out publicly against Erdoğan.
-Haven’t seen or talked to my family 5 years
-Jailed my dad
-My siblings can’t find jobs
-Revoked my passport
-International arrest warrant
-My family can’t leave the country
-Got Death Threats everyday
-Got attacked, harassed
-Tried to kidnap me in Indonesia
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 14, 2019
“FREEDOM IS NOT FREE,” Kanter added.
The tweet drew an immediate condemnation from the Chinese government, forcing several Chinese businesses and media outlets to blacklist, censor and cut ties with the Rockets or NBA all together.
The NBA first responded with a widely criticized Monday statement expressing its regrets to offended Chinese fans, and then enraged lawmakers with a stronger statement in Mandarin condemning Morey.
A subsequent statement from the NBA’s commissioner backing freedom of expression did little to quell the firestorm.