Enes Kanter celebrated becoming a United States citizen on Monday and will have a new name on the back of his jersey.
The Boston Celtics center, who has been vocal about political and human rights issues across the globe, changed his legal name to Enes Kanter Freedom. The name change comes as he continues to speak out against the president of his native Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as injustices in China.
On Tuesday, Kanter explained what led to him choosing "Freedom" as his new last name.
"First time I came to America, it was back in 2009, one of my teammates was criticizing the President," he said. "And I was like very scared of him, I turned around and was like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? They’re going to throw you in jail.’ He turned around and started laughing at me. He was like, ‘Brother don’t worry about it. This is not Turkey.’
"But in America, obviously, people are very blessed to be in this situation. They have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of press. You guys are doing your jobs, but some of your colleagues overseas in many countries, especially the Middle East, because they’re are doing their jobs, they’re in jails. Especially people in Turkey, there are so many political prisoners, there are so many journalists who are in jail right now.
"I think this here, I wanted to make that word part of me, because that was the word that I fought for my whole life. That was the word that I try to stand up my whole life. To me, it was really important, and that was the reason.”
So, what should we call Kanter from this point forward?
“Mr. Freedom," he answered.
It won't be his first time donning "Freedom" on the back of his Celtics jersey. The 29-year-old also wore it in the NBA bubble in August 2020.
Freedom is averaging 4.2 points and 5.2 rebounds over 11.2 minutes per game so far this season with the Celtics.