The Boston Celtics kicked off the 2021-2022 NBA regular season with a game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks Wednesday evening.
The whole game was a total thrill ride, especially with Marcus Smart of the Celtics forcing the game to go into overtime with a sweet shot from downtown (three pointer) right as time ran out in regulation play, just before the Knicks managed to defeat the Celtics 138-134 in double overtime.
This might also be the last Celtics game ever allowed to be made available in China for a very, very long time.
Enes Kanter, center for the Celtics, posted up a video on his Twitter account Wednesday where he called on the Chinese government to “Free Tibet.”
“My message to the Chinese government is free Tibet,” Kanter wrote in his tweet. “Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I am here to add my voice and speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetans people’s basic rights and freedoms are non existent.”
“I say, shame on the Chinese government,” the Celtics center continued. “The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture. The cultural genocide in Tibet is so stifling, that more than 150 Tibetan people have burned themselves alive, hoping that such a horrific act of sacrifice will raise awareness and attention towards the ongoing abuses within Tibet.”
“Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen,” he said, going on to add, “Free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet.”
Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
China took over control of Tibet back in 1951.
The reaction in communist China was swift, with Chinese streaming service Tencent — which has partnered with the NBA — cutting the live feed of the Celtics vs Knicks game. On Thursday, future Celtics games were marked as unavailable to be live-streamed, according to The New York Times.
In 2019, the NBA ran afoul of the Chinese government when Daryl Morey — then the general manager of the Houston Rockets — voiced his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Morey’s message instantly ignited outrage from China’s communist government, which moved to end its relationship with the Rockets. The NBA quickly went into damage control mode, saying that the “views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.”
LeBron James weighed in, criticizing Morey for not being “educated on the situation.”
“I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke,” James stated. “So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” James continued. “So, just be careful what we tweet and say and what we do even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech there can be a lot of negatives that comes with that too.”
Kanter, who hails from Turkey, has become notorious for being very critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the last few years. In fact, the Turkish government has issued a total of nine arrest warrants for him for charges of defamation and terrorism.