Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is playing a career-low 6.0 minutes per game this season, and he suggests it may have something to do with his strong stance against the Chinese government.
Kanter may be on to something. He has been vocal on social media about China’s massive human rights violations, and China’s state-run television has pulled Celtics games from its airwaves as a result.
Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, Kanter has appeared in just three of the Celtics’ first 14 games.
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Keep in mind that no pro sports league in history has profited as greatly off China as the modern-day NBA. Like many American companies, the NBA entirely ignores what is happening in China, most likely to keep filling its own pockets.
That is why the NBA has yet to come out in support of Kanter and why many members of the NBA media — who work for companies with ties to China — have not asked the league to respond to Kanter’s China takes.
So it is fair to say the NBA holds the U.S. to higher standards than it does China. For instance, the league pulled the All-Star Game out of Charlotte in 2017 over a bill that opposed allowing transgender people to use public restrooms based on their gender identity.
But the Chinese government is totally against “transgender rights,” and yet the NBA’s relationship with the Chinese government is, by and large, just peachy.
And frankly, that’s the least of China’s human rights violations.
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First-year Celtics coach Ime Udoka has been a disappointment early, as the team that was expected to be an Eastern Conference contender is just aimlessly floating in the middle of the pack.
But Udoka said that Kanter’s lack of playing time has nothing to do with his opposition to the NBA’s primary money-maker.
“My thing is strictly basketball. We’re switching a lot and doing some things that probably are not as natural for him and that’s limited his time to some extent,” Udoka insisted. “Nothing basketball-related will be based on (social media).”
Udoka may speak the truth. Maybe Kanter really isn’t a basketball fit. That’s a bit surprising, given that he is 6-foot-10 and appeared in all 72 games with the Portland Trail Blazers last season, averaging a double-double of 11.2 points and 11.0 rebounds.
And it was the Celtics who worked so hard to sign him in free agency this past offseason, then celebrated wildly when they did. But now, suddenly, he is barely seeing the court for “basketball reasons.”
Just like most things when it comes to the NBA and China, what is going on with the Celtics and Kanter seems awfully fishy.
Ime Udoka on Enes Kanter’s lack of playing time: “My thing is strictly basketball. We're switching a lot and doing some things that probably are not as natural for him and that's limited his time to some extent … Nothing basketball related will be based on [social media].” pic.twitter.com/f1yr7m3aoO— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) November 15, 2021