NBA Player Enes Kanter Freedom, a Frequent China Critic, to Speak at CPAC

NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, who has become an outspoken critic of China and Turkey and has voiced his opinions on several other social issues, will speak at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) later this month.

The announcement was made on Monday by American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp on Twitter. The annual conference is currently scheduled to feature speeches from former President Donald Trump as well as other Republicans, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and conservative media personalities like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

Freedom, who added the word to the end of his name in November, has criticized several foreign governments over human rights abuses. He has also been a critic of several other NBA players who partner with companies that manufacture shoes and other clothes in China, as well as of U.S. participation in the Winter Olympics currently taking place in Beijing, tweeting that the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Games is "good but NOT enough."

The outspoken stances have won him popularity among the conservative community as he has called other athletes and entertainers "scared" to criticize China because of the amount of money they have at risk.

His website has a page titled "Freedom For All," with links to stories of oppressed groups Freedom has voiced his support for, including the Uyghurs in China as well as people in Tibet and Venezuela, among others.

Freedom, born in Switzerland and raised in his parents' home country of Turkey, became a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016, which led to his father being arrested and the Turkish government revoking his passport.

More recently, he has criticized Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James' partnership with Nike over its ties to China. He also said in November that NBA legend Michael Jordan "has not done anything for the Black community in America" other than donating money to charity.

In January, Freedom said he would accept an invitation from former NBA player Yao Ming, who is currently president of the Chinese Basketball Association, to visit China if he could see "the real China," according to CNN.

Freedom told CNN's John Berman on New Day that he would accept the invitation if he could see labor camps and isn't shown "propaganda."

"I don't need a lecture through China—I don't want propaganda," Kanter said. "I want to actually get to see the real China and show the whole world what's going on."

In response, Boston Celtics games have been removed from Chinese video streaming website Tencent, CNN reported.

CPAC is scheduled to take place February 24-27 in Florida. Freedom has appeared in 34 of the Celtics' 55 games this season and is averaging 3.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game, according to Basketball Reference.

Update 2/7/2022 3:42 p.m.: This story has been updated with added context regarding the backstory of Enes Kanter Freedom.

Enes Kanter Freedom China CPAC Speaker
NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom has been announced as a speaker at the upcoming CPAC later this month. Above, Freedom, who plays with the Boston Celtics, looks on before the Celtics' home opener against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden on October 22, 2021, in Boston. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images