NBA superstar LeBron James on Friday, Nov. 19, fired back at Enis Kanter over spotlight sneakers that mock his deal with Nike which allegedly have its products sourced from Chinese forced labor camps.
James said Kanter was only attacking him for his name, and that the Celtics backup center would not confront the issue with him directly.
“Trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself. Definitely won’t comment too much on that, if any. That will be where I lay that at,” James said, according to The Blaze. “He’s always kind of had a word or two to say in my direction, and as a man, if you got an issue with somebody, you really come up to him.”
“He had his opportunity tonight. I seen him in the hallway, he walked right by me,” he added.
Kanter in recent weeks has been vocal with his criticisms of big names in the sports industry who would not address Nike’s indecent involvement with forced labor in its Chinese factories.
His heated opposition to the Lakers star also arose as James signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike that is worth over $1 billion.
“Money over Morals for the ‘King,’ wrote Kanter on Twitter as he introduced his own design for the sneakers that represents the human rights issue in China. “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?” Kanter ridiculed, referencing James’ research claims about COVID-19 vaccines when he said he took the shots.
Kanter also donned the shoes in the Friday Lakers-Celtics game in TD Garden.
The shoes depicted James bowing down to receive a golden crown from China’s President Xi Jinping. On his back were large bags of money. One other side of the shoe has the crown that reads “silence,” mocking how people accept financial benefits to shut down voices against human rights abuses in China.
According to the New York Post, Kanter said the league officials pleaded with him not to wear “Free Tibet” sneakers before the Celtics’ season-opening game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, but he refused.
As a result of Kanter’s lobbying, Celtics games in China have been outlawed. He said the league may not be in favor of his efforts in criticizing China.
“I don’t know how much of that is true, because if they were really supporting me, they would have put something out there,” Kanter said. “They would have put [out] some kind of statement.”