NBA player Enes Kanter wears ‘Free China’ shoes featuring image of Winnie the Pooh during game
- The Turkish NBA player continues to protest against Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing shoes made by dissident artist Badiucao
- Kanter’s latest pair of shoes feature Kanter holding the head of Winnie the Pooh along with a Tiananmen Square drawing
Enes Kanter continued his campaign of criticism against China and its president Xi Jinping on Sunday when he wore another controversial pair of shoes, this time with the words “Free China” emblazoned on them, while on the bench for the Boston Celtics against the Houston Rockets in Texas.
“Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, someone has to teach you a lesson,” wrote Kanter on an accompanying social media post with photos of the shoes. “I will never apologise for speaking the truth. You can not buy me. You can not scare me. You can not silence me.”
The shoes also featured the iconic “Tank Man” scene with the tops of the tanks replaced by Winnie the Pooh heads.
Images of the Tiananmen Square crackdown are banned in China and have been scrubbed from the country’s restricted internet.
Tencent, which holds exclusive streaming rights for NBA games in China, stopped streaming Boston Celtics games online after Kanter originally posted a video message to his social media accounts in which he called Xi a “brutal dictator”.
This is the latest in a long line of troubles for the NBA and its teams in China since 2019 when then Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong’s protest movement.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has not shown any NBA games so far in the 2021-22 season.
Tencent does not stream games featuring the Philadelphia 76ers, where Morey has been the president of basketball operations since November 2020, just as the platform did not show Rockets games when Morey was the general manager there.
The NBA has yet to comment on the shoes or on Kanter’s social media posts. However, it is league policy that it must approve all shoes worn on the court.
The Celtics’ page on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, has been flooded with posts demanding Kanter be punished, be made to issue an apology and be banned from the NBA.