Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter, a Turkish-born basketball star, had a powerful response to LeBron James, who on Monday ignited a firestorm of criticism after seemingly defending Communist China.
More than one week after the NBA-China controversy began, starting with a pro-Hong Kong tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, James told the media that Morey's comment was selfish and that he "wasn't educated on the situation at hand."
"And so many people could have been harmed, not only financial, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, so just be careful for what we tweet, what we say, and what we do," James said. "Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, there can be a lot of negatives."
The Los Angeles Lakers star then went on Twitter to comment further on the issue:
My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or stat… https://t.co/M38zdFmwHl— LeBron James (@LeBron James) 1571106972.0
In response, Kanter tweeted, "Wow dude!" "SMH," and an emoticon depicting a nauseous person.
Then he responded with his experience of being on the wrong side of a totalitarian regime.
-Haven’t seen or talked to my family 5 years -Jailed my dad -My siblings can’t find jobs -Revoked my passport -Inte… https://t.co/HSlj300Zah— Enes Kanter (@Enes Kanter) 1571110493.0
Kanter has a longstanding feud with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and is currently exiled from his home country. Kanter is highly critical of Erdogan and has voiced support for an opposing political movement.
As his tweet indicated, his family has been jailed, he cannot leave America because of threats against his life, and Turkey has issued an international arrest warrant demanding his return to Turkey.
In fact, Kanter's experience with totalitarian regimes — of which China is one — is so personal that the FBI has installed a "panic button" at Kanter's home due to the severity of the threats against his life.