Celtics player Enes Kanter Freedom called becoming a United States citizen on Monday “the greatest feeling” he’s ever had and argued that America-haters “should just keep their mouths shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world.”
After officially becoming an American citizen, the Turkish-raised NBA player told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that it was “the greatest day” of his life.
“It was my dream the first day I stepped into America,” Freedom said.
“I wanted to [become an American citizen] because I remember first time I came to America, you know, one of my teammates — it was back in 2009 — one of my teammates criticized the president. And I turned around and I told him, I was like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? They’re going to throw you in jail.’ And he told me, he started laughing and said, ‘This is America. Don’t worry about it. You are not in Turkey anymore.’ I was very shocked,” Freedom said.
He told Carlson that the “American people opened their arms” and gave him a home.
The Celtics player said his teammates were very happy for him, adding that for years they would call him “Mr. Freedom,” a name that has now become a reality: after earning his citizenship, he changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom.
“People should feel really blessed and lucky to be in America,” Freedom said. “They love to criticize it, but when you live in a country like Turkey or China or somewhere else, you will appreciate the freedoms you have here.”
“They should just keep their mouths shut and stop criticizing the greatest nation in the world and they should focus on their freedoms and their human rights and their democracy,” he continued. “America gave me everything I have, so I definitely appreciate the United States of America.”
Freedom has been outspoken about human rights atrocities being committed by the Chinese Communist Party, particularly against the minority Muslim Uyghurs. The NBA player recently made headlines after calling out LeBron James and Nike for pushing social justice causes in the U.S. while maintaining cozy relationships with China.
He said many athletes, actors and celebrities are “scared” to criticize China because their “endorsement deals, their contracts and their money will be affected.”
“But to me, you know, human rights, democracy and freedom is way more important than everything they can offer me,” Freedom said.
“Morals, values and principles are the most important thing in life,” he added. “So, to me, I wanted to stand up for my Muslim brothers and sisters who are in concentration camps and are getting tortured and raped every day. And I don’t care whoever said which organization or which company. I don’t care about any of that. I care about the innocent people out there who don’t have a voice.”