by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Dan McLaughlin of National Review Online reports on reaction in China to a recent personnel decision in American pro basketball.
Enes Kanter Freedom was traded by the Boston Celtics to the Houston Rockets at the trading deadline on Thursday, and then promptly cut by the Rockets. The four-player deal made some sense for the Celtics, who are stalled and in need of retooling and were trying to clear salary-cap space. … Still, the Celtics abandoned their best rebounder and the only guy on the roster over 6’9″. It is harder to see a non-salary-cap basketball justification for the Rockets, who have the worst record in the Western Conference, although their center is their best player and they are likely more interested in landing a high draft pick than in winning games right now.
Unlike Colin Kaepernick or Chris Kluwe, Kanter Freedom is not just a fading player using politics as an excuse for running out of jobs. He was still averaging 14 rebounds per 36 minutes, and, at 29 years old, he should still have some years left as a banger in the paint. …
… But will his politics — specifically, his outspoken criticism of the Chinese Communist Party — get him blackballed from the NBA? If so, it may be time to start asking which nation the “National” in NBA stands for. Certainly, Kanter Freedom, whose passion for human rights comes from experience with the authoritarian government in his native Turkey, has upped the rhetorical ante of late on the depredations of the CCP. He added the “Freedom” to his name in November as a political statement upon becoming a U.S. citizen. …
… The Global Times is a belligerent English-language daily that is owned by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily and has been designated as a “foreign mission” by the State Department. It is a reliable barometer of the nationalistic id of the CCP under Xi Jinping. Its jubilant response to Kanter Freedom being traded and cut was not only to deride him, but also to brag about how Chinese influence could deter NBA teams from wanting to sign him.