Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is officially changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Kanter will become his middle name. He officially becomes a U.S. citizen tomorrow.
The Celtics center will earn U.S. citizenship after years of living in exile from his home country Turkey. For much of his NBA career, Kanter been publicly critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In 2017, the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport, accusing him and his family of terrorism. His father was jailed and later released. Kanter has skipped trips to Europe with his teams for fear of assassination.
Kanter has made headlines throughout this season with his social media campaign against the Chinese’s government treatment of the Uyghur people and other ethnic minorities, millions of whom have been detained in internment camps in the Xinjiang province since 2017. Though Kanter’s main target this year has been Nike, he has called out Lebron James and Michael Jordan, who represent the brand, in the process. Celtics games, along with those of the Philadelphia 76ers, are not aired in China.
On the court, Kanter has been picking up the pace as of late. In his last five games with the Celtics, he is averaging 5.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per night. Kanter has seen a serious uptick in minutes since Robert Williams has been out with a non-COVID illness.
Kanter has not made a formal statement about changing his name.