Boston Celtics games will no longer be aired by Chinese media after reserve big man Enes Kanter, a frequent social activist and critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, posted a video of himself sharing support for Tibet, a region governed by China, according to the New York Times.
"I'm here to add my voice and speak out about what is happening in Tibet. Under the Chinese government's brutal rule, Tibetan people's basic rights and freedoms are nonexistent," Kanter said on Twitter and Instagram Wednesday. He went on to call Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" while wearing a shirt with an image of the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhists. Kanter did not play in Wednesday's season-opening loss to the New York Knicks, but wore shoes with the words "Free Tibet" written on them.
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Chinese state television broadcaster CCTV stopped broadcasting NBA games in 2019 after then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shared his support for Hong Kong democracy. Games had previously resumed streaming on Tencent, the Chinese company which streams the NBA, but those involving Morey's Philadelphia 76ers are not available in China. Celtics games had been streamed, but replays of previous games are no longer available and it appears as though live games won't be either. NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the NBA's broadcasting situation in China on Monday.
"It's unclear whether we'll be back on CCTV television in China this year," Silver told reporters. "Our projections are not dependent on it. I will say we've been back on Tencent, the streaming service in China, for some time now, and will be when the season starts."
"We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet's development and progress," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said of Kanter's video. He added that Kanter was "trying to get attention." The NBA and Tencent have not commented on the situation.