The Boston Celtics thumped the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, 130-108, as Jayson Tatum spoiled LeBron James’ return to the floor with a magnificent 37-point, 11-rebound effort at home.
James made his first start since Nov. 2 as he sat out the last two-plus weeks with an abdominal strain, and while his return was at the top of NBA headlines coming in, Celtics big man Enes Kanter took aim at James off the court prior to their meeting on it. Kanter, who has been outspoken about the human rights atrocities committed by China since the start of the season, posted a photo of custom shoes he had made for the Lakers game featuring LeBron bowing to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, calling out James for choosing “money over morals” for his Nike line and its ties to China.
Money over Morals for the “King”
Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice
They really do “shut up & dribble” when Big Boss says so
Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research? pic.twitter.com/YUA8rGYeoZ
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) November 18, 2021
After the game, James was asked if he had a response to Kanter’s criticism. James mostly shrugged it off, noting Kanter has tried to engage with him in the past publicly and when the two saw each other in the hallway at the TD Garden, Kanter didn’t approach him for an in-person conversation and “walked right by me.”
LeBron James on Enes Kanter: "I think if you know me I don't really give too many people my energy, he's not going to be someone I give my energy … I seen him in the hallway, he blew right by me."#Celtics #Lakers
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) November 20, 2021
LeBron's full quote when asked if he had any reaction to Enes Kanter's public criticism of him: pic.twitter.com/tZd0CIEmlp
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) November 20, 2021
It’s the expected response from LeBron, who is not going to get into a public war of words with Enes Kanter about this. Kanter’s long been consistent about speaking out on human rights issues around the world, particularly in his native Turkey where he faces prison time if he ever enters the country, had some scary situations with his Turkish passport being revoked while traveling abroad, and has seen family members imprisoned. As such, critiques that he’s only seeking attention in this spot are misguided, but as James notes, this is a conversation that should, at least in part, be had in private as well and his unwillingness to do so irked LeBron in this instance.