The Boston Celtics opened their 2021-2022 regular season at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks Wednesday night.
It was a thrilling game, with Marcus Smart of the Celtics forcing overtime with a three-pointer as time expired in regulation before the Knicks outlasted the Celtics 138-134 in double overtime.
It could also be the last Celtics game available in China for some time.
On Wednesday, Boston center Enes Kanter posted a video to his Twitter account, calling on the Chinese government to “Free Tibet.”
“My message to the Chinese government is free Tibet,” Kanter wrote. “Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I am here to add my voice and speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetans people’s basic rights and freedoms are non existent.”
“I say, shame on the Chinese government,” Kanter continued. “The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture. The cultural genocide in Tibet is so stifling, that more than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive, hoping that such a horrific act of sacrifice will raise awareness and attention towards the ongoing abuses within Tibet.”
“Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen,” he said in the video. “Free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet.”
Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
China seized control of Tibet in 1951.
The reaction in communist China was swift, with Chinese streaming service Tencent — which has partnered with the NBA — cutting the live feed of the Celtics vs Knicks game. On Thursday, future Celtics games were marked as unavailable to be live-streamed, according to The New York Times.
In 2019, the NBA ran afoul of the Chinese government when Daryl Morey — then the general manager of the Houston Rockets — voiced his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Morey’s message instantly ignited outrage from China’s communist government, which moved to end its relationship with the Rockets. The NBA quickly went into damage control mode, saying that the “views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.”
LeBron James weighed in, criticizing Morey for not being “educated on the situation.”
“I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” James said. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” James continued. “So, just be careful what we tweet and say and what we do even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech there can be a lot of negatives that comes with that too.”
Kanter, who is from Turkey, has been highly critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent years. The Turkish government has issued nine warrants for his arrest, including for defamation and terrorism.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.