Blacklisted Basketball Player Enes Kanter Freedom Wins 'Most Valuable Patriot' Award

Former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom received the "Most Valuable Patriot" (MVP) award at the fourth annual Fox Nation's Patriot Awards in Hollywood, Florida, on Thursday.

Kanter sacrificed his career to speak out against the NBA's hypocrisy regarding human rights issues in countries with which the league has business relationships, such as China and Turkey.

He received the award to a loud applause:

"I cannot thank you guys enough," Kanter told "Fox & Friends" co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade who handed him the award "I'm really honored and humbled to be here."

The former player ventured to recall growing up in Turkey where anti-West sentiment was rampant. He told the story of when his friends encouraged him to burn American flags and crosses.

"They even gave me a flag to burn it, and I got so scared, I throw it down," Kanter said. "I ran upstairs to my mom. I was like, mom, you know, this is what my friends are telling me to hate Americans, and… American people are bad, and so what do I do?" 

"And she said, I'm not going to tell you what to do, but do not hate anyone before you meet them," he continued. "I gave a promise my mom, dad… That I'm not going to hate anyone before I meet them."

Enes Kanter Freedom spoke to OutKick exclusively last summer about the NBA blackballing him for his activism.

Here are some highlights from the interview:

Burack: If you had known that speaking out would have cost you your NBA career, would you have still done it?

Kanter Freedom: I would do this every time. No question.

Why? While they are playing basketball right now, there is a genocide happening on the other side of the ocean. There are three to four million people in concentration camps who are tortured every day. And Uyghurs are not the only ones — you see what’s happening in places like Hong Kong, Tibet, Taiwan and Mongolians.

So this is bigger than my next paycheck. Of course I would do it all over again.

Let me ask you this, Bobby: would the NBA and these companies stand with Taiwan if China invades like they have Ukraine?

Burack: No way.

Burack: What would you tell other NBA players who want to speak out but are afraid?

Kanter Freedom: My message to the players and your readers is to keep standing up for what they believe in, even if it means sacrificing everything you have.

People ask me all the time what they can do if they don’t have a platform, and I say if you see an item made from China at a store, put it down. Do not buy it. It makes a difference.

My second message is to understand that the NBA, in my opinion, is the most hypocritical organization out there. So we need to keep pushing the NBA to stand up for what is right. The NBA is a 100 percent American-made organization that the Chinese dictatorship runs.

That is unacceptable. Someone, whether it’s the Senate or other politicians, needs to say “enough is enough.” And it’s not just the NBA. Chinese-controlled US institutions also include Hollywood and academia. Someone has to stop this.

*You can read the full exchange below:

Kanter is courageous. He traded his career for his principles. LeBron James warned fellow NBA players to speak out against China committing genocide against Muslim Uyghurs because it's "selfish" and hurts the bottom line of the league.

Unlike the rest of the NBA, Kanter didn't dutifully comply. Thereby his career is over.

Kanter raises awareness of actual social injustices -- not the fabricated issues the NBA purports to take place in the United States.

Hating America is profitable. As is protecting the Chinese Communist Party.

Enes Kanter Freedom is a patriot. And well deserving of the "MVP" award this year.

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.