Enes Kanter said he’s proud to be a member of the Boston Celtics after watching the way that every level of the organization has responded this week while trying to combat racial injustices.
Kanter was one of at least four teammates to participate in peaceful protests last weekend and said the Celtics held a powerful Zoom meeting Wednesday where players, coaches, and ownership all expressed a desire to drive change.
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“This is not about white against black. This is about all of us, everyone against racism. Just to make this clear,” said Kanter, who made a 20-hour drive from Chicago to join peaceful protests in Boston on Sunday. "I just came to my city, to be with my people. I got inspired a lot.
"I got inspired a lot by Jaylen Brown. It just shows how good of a leader he is … what kind of character he has. Not just him but Marcus Smart and, not many people talked about it, but Vincent [Poirier] went out there. We had a conversation [Wednesday] night and, [Thursday], so many players texted me and said, ‘Hey are we going [to protest] again?’ That shows a lot about what kind of teammates we have. You’re proud to be a Celtic, man.”
Kanter said that Wednesday’s Zoom meeting featured impassioned conversation that included owner Wyc Grousbeck, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, coach Brad Stevens and his staff, and players.
“You could see why this is like one of the best organizations in the league. You can see the leaders,” said Kanter. “It was just amazing to see from the older guys to the younger guys, from the rookies to the owners, the coaches, everyone stepped up and said, ‘What can we do? What should we do to bring more awareness?’"
In the aftermath, Ainge posted a message on Twitter noting, “I’m so proud to be associated with [Celtics players] in our shared quest for positive change.” On Thursday, both Grousbeck and Stevens posted video messages on social media with a goal of driving change.
"I saw [Thursday] that Wyc posted a video out there and I’m like, ‘This is my owner, man. That’s my owner.’ You’re just proud to be a Celtic,” said Kanter. "We have 30 [NBA] teams, right? How many owners stepped up? I see [Mavericks owner Marc] Cuban and Wyc, that’s it. I have not seen anyone stepping up and talking about this.”
Stevens said earlier this week that he labored over a letter to players last weekend trying to express his desire to help them in their quest for change.
"Your coach is your leader, right? Coming from him, it definitely meant a lot to all of us,” said Kanter. "Brad’s a special guy, man. Brad makes a difference. This is like a big family and Brad is obviously like the dad, I would say. I look at my teammates like my brothers and Brad is like the dad. It’s a huge big family.
Everyone cares about each other, everyone respects each other. I’m learning a lot from Brad. I’m learning about being a good leader, being a good person, and that’s what makes him different, man. The whole world knows he’s a good coach. He’s a very smart coach, he knows the game of basketball. But the difference is his character. He cares about the world. He cares about the players, not just on the court but off the court, too.
Kanter, who has spent recent years passionately fighting for human rights in his native Turkey, said his conversations with teammates this week have left him emotional.
"I know what it’s like to fight for freedom and justice,” said Kanter. "There’s only one race and it’s the human race. I’ve said this before in many many interviews: It doesn’t matter what your religion is, what your skin color is, what your race is, whatever you are — the most important thing in life is leaving your differences on the table and trying to find what we have in common.
"I learned a lot this week. I learned a lot from Jaylen, I learned a lot from Celtics … We need to fight for each other, we need to fight for good.”