It's not a secret that the NBA has a huge fanbase in China. From Kobe Bryant to Yao Ming, Asia has become one of the biggest and most profitable markets for the greatest basketball tournament on Earth.
That has often put the league's policy on social issues and its financial interests at odds. Players want to protest against child labor and the Chinese government but that could be a disaster for the league from a monetary standpoint.
That's why Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter recently called out league Commissioner Adam Silver for saying that he supports social justice causes even though he tried to stop him from protesting against China.
Enes Kanter Calls Out The NBA Over Their Stance On China
“I remember it was our first game. It was at Madison Square Garden and I wore ‘Free Tibet’ shoes and went out there," Kanter told CNN. "I remember right before the game, there were two guys from the NBA came up to me and say, ‘You have to take your shoes off, we are begging you.”
“There’s 27 amendments and my first amendment is the greatest amendment – it’s the freedom of speech. I was like, ‘I know my rights, you cannot take my rights away from me. I don’t care if I get fined, I’m not going to take my shoes off.”
Kanter Says The NBA 'Made' Him An Activist
The Turkish big man -- who's also known for his stand-off against President Erdogan -- said that the NBA made him do this, as Adam Silver is often encouraging players to talk about social injustice:
“NBA made me do this,” added Kanter. “Because every time when one of the NBA teams or the commissioner came out and speak, they encourage players to talk about whatever they want to talk about. We are giving freedom to our players to talk about all the injustices happening around the world, human rights abuse around the world, so they told me to do this, basically.”
“He told me, yes. We are supporting you against China. … I don’t know how much that is true. Because if they were really supporting me, they would’ve put something out there. They would have put some kind of statement. I told Adam this too. Our team games, the Boston Celtics games are banned in China and this is unacceptable," he concluded.
Whether players should or shouldn't protest against the Chinese government is not for us to decide. But people should be able to stand up for what they believe in, even if it hurts the league's pockets. They've got plenty of cash to spare anyway.