Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter received praise as a uniquely courageous voice in the NBA after posting a video calling Chinese president Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and for China to free the region of Tibet.
“My message for the Chinese government is free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I’m here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet. Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, [the] Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent,” Kanter said in the video.
“Brutal Dictator of China Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen. I will say [it] again, again and again, loud and clear. I hope you hear me. Free Tibet. Free Tibet. Free Tibet,” he added.
According to The New York Times, Boston Celtics games were pulled from the internet in China after Kanter posted the video.
China has sought to maintain tight control over the region heavily influenced by its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Since taking over shortly after the 1949 Communist revolution, China has frequently cracked down on separatists’ independence efforts.
After NBA stars like LeBron James have been criticized for kowtowing to China, Kanter was praised for taking a stand against China in defense of Tibet, with some referring to him as the “bravest player in the NBA” and a “good human being.”
The story attracted the attention of lawmakers like Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, as well.
Kanter, a Swiss-born Turk, previously spoke out against Turkey’s authoritarian government led by President Recep Erdogan. He says his criticism of the government led to his family being targeted as terrorists in connection with the failed coup that took place in the country in 2016.
He has expressed fears that he could be targeted and killed by the Turkish government if he ever leaves the U.S.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.