Enes Freedom Earns Utah Award, Recounts Celtics Locker Room Exchange With Teammates Criticizing America

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Riverton, Utah, is a growing town in the southern part of Salt Lake County that is surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges. And fresh air.

And freedom.

“Freedom has a home in Riverton,” mayor Trent Staggs told OutKick on Monday morning.

That applies both literally and figuratively.

Staggs recently inaugurated the Mayor’s Freedom Award and decided the first one should rightly go to former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom.

Mayor’s Freedom Award from Riverton, Utah

Riverton Utah Inaugurates Freedom Award

The award went to Freedom as part of a ceremony that proclaimed April 12 as Enes Freedom day. Freedom got the key to the city as well.

“We often highlight people or the media’s focused on individuals who really are not great ambassadors for our country or the rights we’ve been blessed with,” Staggs said. “This is something that is well deserved and well merited for Enes.

“We’ve taken an innovative approach to municipal government. But on some of these other issues, these larger scale issues that are so foundational like freedom of speech, what have I done? And so I thought I really want to recognize and highlight people like Enes to our community, to our citizens here in Riverton, and throughout the state …

“I think we need to highlight these people. We need to extol this kind of virtuous behavior and remind people that our freedoms are not guaranteed, as Reagan indicated.”

Riverton, Utah mayor Trent Staggs speaks at inaugural Mayor’s Freedom Award ceremony.

Enes Freedom Story From The Locker Room

With de-platforming common on social media, aggressive and sometimes violent protests against public speakers (usually on the right) now an oft-used tactic, and obviously Freedom’s own life experiences, it could be argued the First Amendment is under attack.

Freedom has definitely seen it first-hand. Aside from his China stance, pointing out attacks and abuses against ethnic or religious people, he has stood up for America. Even in locker rooms where that opinion was not popular.

“I remember one day, it was my last year with the Boston Celtics,” Freedom shared when he accepted the award. “Some of my teammates were having conversations in the locker room and they were criticizing America and telling each other how bad our situation is here and all that stuff.”

So American millionaires ripping America. Got it.

“And I went in the locker room and I stopped them,” Freedom said. “I told them them, ‘I’ll make you guys an offer. The season’s about to be over. At the end of the season let me buy you a ticket. And let’s go to some of these countries out there.’ ”

Freedom suggested the group go to China.

Or Russia.

To Iran.

Or North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries

“I went on and on, there were like 60 of them,” Freedom said. “And let’s see which one you guys can even tweet about or criticize the president and use your freedom of speech.”

Enes Freedom
Enes Freedom #13 of the Boston Celtics reacts during the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on February 08, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Enes Freedom’s NBA Teammates Silent

The players who were criticizing the United States had no idea what’s happening elsewhere. They had no idea how good they actually have it compared to other places.

“They were like, ‘What would happen?’ ” Freedom said. “I said, ‘Well, not only yourselves but all your family members will be tortured and raped in jail.’ So sometimes we don’t understand how lucky we are to be in this country. Obviously, I’m not saying we are perfect. But we should feel very blessed and lucky to be in a country, in a state, in a city like this.”

Freedom knows of what he speaks first hand. His family lives in Turkey. Freedom says the government of “president” Recep Tayyip Erdogan targeted them when Freedom criticized the regime.

“I talked about human rights violations in Turkey and they jailed my dad,” Freedom said. “Think about it. He had nothing to do with any of this stuff. It was just me. Even the judge said the only reason I’m going to put you in jail is because you are the father of Enes.”

It hasn’t stopped there.

Freedom, at age 30, believes he’s been effectively the NBA has blacklisted him because of China criticisms. China and the NBA are business partners and that’s worth some $5 billion to the league.

Turkey, meanwhile, has put a $500,000 bounty on his head which means Freedom is obviously in some danger.

The story Freedom shared moved his audience, including Staggs, who sees people criticizing their country while giving China a pass as troubling.

“There’s human rights abuses and atrocities like organ harvesting and abusive behavior, all this is going on,” Staggs said. “But [the players are silent. As I’ve said, there are so many ready to take a knee, but they’re too greedy to take a stand.

“I truly believe that. Fortunately, Enes is one that is willing to take a stand.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero


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  1. “I talked about human rights violations in Turkey and they jailed my dad,” Freedom said. “Think about it. He had nothing to do with any of this stuff. It was just me. Even the judge said the only reason I’m going to put you in jail is because you are the father of Enes.”

    Think about the key word there: the JUDGE. Judges, DAs, whatever, are all in on the oppression. It wasn’t just Erdogan’s federal government. Sound familiar? That’s how you know you live under tyranny – when the other branches simp for the autocrat in charge, and take direct orders from him. Again…familiar…

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