I’m going to make this quick because there is far too much ink and time spent on Enes Freedom, a one-trick pony on the court who learned a new trick to stay relevant off of it. He made headlines again this week by putting up 42 points and 24 rebou— err, scratch that. That’s impossible because he’s not on an NBA team because the Houston Rockets waived him because his skill set is archaic, his defense is non-existent, and he whines about playing time instead of trying to fix those shortcomings.
Now, he’s just whining about being blackballed because he found out a segment of the media loves a guy willing to call out the woke NBA for ties to China, and always welcomes a rube to exploit to further political agendas.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize why I got little playing time and was released,” he told the New York Times via text. “But it does take people with a conscience to speak out and say it’s not right.”
In addition to believing he’s some sort of bizarro Colin Kaepernick, he also said the league, the players union, and the Boston Celtics told him to shut up about China. He’s been vocal about the alleged abuse of Uyghur Muslims at the hands of the Chinese, and that’s to be commended.
Standing up to your employer and Big Footwear is a difficult thing to do and something that’s not too popular with the NBA. However, Daryl Morey took a shot at China, and he’s still in the league. Part of that is because the current 76ers GM has shied away from added criticism; the other more important part of it is he’s good at his job.
There isn’t an owner- or league-wide movement to quell Freedom’s speech. The league isn’t going to start an anti-China campaign either because it’s bad for business. However, Adam Silver, Brad Stevens, and the player’s union are all quoted in the NYT piece as saying they never told Freedom to shut up and sit quietly on the bench. In fact, multiple times throughout the article writer Sopan Deb says Freedom declined to say who told him what or offer specifics and clarifications about conversations.
People may have informed Freedom he’s going to become a pariah if all he does is call people out on Twitter and talk to literally anyone who will give him air time, but the NBA allows and almost encourages its players to speak out on social issues. They had catchphrases on the back of the bubble jerseys, not the NFL’s small, barely noticeable “Say no to racism” on end zone lines.
Kaepernick is a guy who plays the most important position in football and took a team to a Super Bowl doing it. Freedom is no longer valuable in the NBA. Centers are expendable, and even a guy who won Defensive Player of the Year can get played off the court in the postseason. A low-post scorer who doesn’t really stretch the floor and never played defense is about as useful as owning a Zune only if your Zune audibly complained about not being used and genocide.
You can be outspoken and be a role player in the NBA. George Hill still plays for Milwaukee, and the only reason that’s surprising is because — like Freedom — we’re not sure he’s good anymore. Freedom saying his political views are why he’s glued to the bench is bullshit. If he doesn’t want his career to be over at 29, try TB12 or going vegan or improving his range, something that gives your coach a reason to play you.
You know who doesn’t want to hear about minutes from the eighth or ninth guy on the team? Every fucking NBA coach. And nobody wants a member of their bench mob showing up on Tucker Carlson and saying critics of America “should just keep their mouth shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world.”
I know he’s new to this whole being an American thing, but one of the primary reasons we have freedom of speech is so we can do exactly that and hold (or at least attempt to hold) our overlords accountable. Also, less than six months ago Freedom was telling people to stop talking, and now he’s mad about allegedly being told to stop talking. OK…
If he wants to make a point about why leagues should really take a look at who they do business with, offer up Chelsea and the EPL and the upheaval going on because a Russian oligarch owns a team. Clearly, capitalism only comes second when the human rights violations are too verified and videotaped to ignore.
Goddammit, I’ve already said too much. Maybe now that Freedom can focus all of his attention on advocacy he’ll be better at it — but I wouldn’t hold my breath.