On Thursday, former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom said in an interview that he hopes to run for Congress in the future.
The comments were made to Fox Business show host Maria Baritoromo on her show, “Mornings With Maria.”
Former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom issued a major announcement during his appearance on “Mornings with Maria,” Thursday, declaring that he is officially considering running for public office.
Freedom said that “when the time is right,” he would like to become a member of Congress.
“I will [run for office] actually, when that when the time is right. And shout out to, you know, whoever is out there listening. Yeah, of course. I would love to,” Freedom told host Maria Bartiromo.
Source: Fox Business
When Baritoromo asked Kanter Freedom if he had begun fundraising, he replied, “I haven’t started yet. But I started out conversations with some of my friends and members of Congress,” he said.
Kanter Freedom was originally born in Turkey but was exiled after expressing support for Fethullah Gulen, a religious cleric living in exile in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania.
The former NBA player became a U.S. citizen in 2021 and officially changed his name from Enes Kanter to Enes Kanter Freedom to celebrate his new American citizenship
Kanter Freedom has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government because of its human rights abuses, especially against the Uyghurs, and has expressed his support for freedom in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Also on the panel were former CIA officer Mike Baker and Mark Tepper, CEO of Strategic Wealth Partners.
Here is the transcript:
MARIA BARTIROMO: Well, that was U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price yesterday on the growing relationship and challenges between China and Russia for the United States. The president announced nearly $500 million in additional aid for Ukraine during his surprise visit to Kyiv on Monday.
Joining us right now to weigh in on the China threat is former NBA star, activist, Enes Freedom — Enes Kanter Freedom. And, Enes, it’s great to have you.
ENES KANTER FREEDOM: Thank you for having me. I appreciate that.
BARTIROMO: Thank you so much for being here.
You’ve been so incredibly courageous in calling out what you see as the China threat. Where do you see that today? What’s your biggest concern when it comes to China? And why did you put your whole career on the line to make sure to educate the world about it?
FREEDOM: Because, unfortunately, none of my colleagues was willing to go out there and speak the truth, you know, because while we are talking right now, there is a genocide happening. There are millions of people in concentration camps getting tortured and raped every day, and whenever I had a conversation with one of my teammates and I was like, listen, just join me, we’ll create this big movement and we’ll talk about the human rights violations over there. Not anything political, but human rights violations. They said, “We have shoe deals, we have endorsement deals, and we have jersey sales.”
FREEDOM: I asked them one simple question. I was like, “Put yourself in their shoes. If your mother, if your sister, or if your daughter was in those concentration camps getting tortured and raped every day, would you still pick money and business over your morals, values, and principles?” They’d usually turn around and leave the room.
BARTIROMO: You are a great man. I’ll tell you, Enes, that took such courage.
What I’m worried about, Mike Baker, is the fact that it’s not just the concentration camps and these women and girls getting raped, it’s also the way China behaves on the global stage to everybody else. Look what they’re doing for America with the surveillance balloon, COVID-19 coverup. And look what just happened, Enes, the NBA announces a partnership with Chinese fin tech giant, Ant Group.
FREEDOM: I did hear that.
BARTIROMO: I should point out that the founder of Ant Group was disappeared by the CCP a year ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
BARTIROMO: The NBA wants to work on producing video content with Ant Group making digital collectibles, Enes.
FREEDOM: I mean, it’s not a secret that NBA is pretty much China’s lap dog right now and they’re going to do whatever they can to, you know, strengthen their relationship with the — China and China’s governments. And they are going to talk about all the social justice problems that are happening in America because they know that it’s not going to hit their pocket. But as soon as the things that they — they talk about is going to affect their money and business or if anyone talks about it, they’re going to try to do everything they can to silence them. And it is unacceptable.
MIKE BAKER: You’re absolutely right when you — I mean, you point out the treatment of the Uyghurs.
BAKER: You talk about the crushing of the last vestiges of democracy in Hong Kong.
BAKER: You talk about the constant economic espionage, the theft of intellectual property that goes on, the increasing aggression in the South Pacific — all these various elements that they’re engaged in… but, you know, the NBA essentially acts just like every other major U.S. corporation. They’re all willing to turn and look the other way because everyone’s chasing that dollar in China that — that massive market.
FREEDOM: You know, I was talking to John, the more I research, the more I realize it’s not only NBA. You see Hollywood. You see big tech —
BARTIROMO: Oh, yeah.
FREEDOM: You see Wall Street. You see farmland, so it’s just getting worse and worse.
FREEDOM: Academia, there you go. It’s just getting worse and worse every day. Go —
JOHN LEVINE: Well, the strategy is co-option.
LEVINE: I mean, and China doesn’t just do this in the United States. They also do it around the world in countries they operate in. They target, you know, elite figures in academia, in politics, in science, the arts, sports.
FREEDOM: Yes. Yes.
LEVINE: You know, we’ve all — obviously the NBA as you’ve — as you’ve noted, is completely in their pocket. But it’s not just them —
LEVINE: You also see Hollywood, which is, you know, completely, you know, bowing to the whims of the Chinese Communist Party in the content they’re producing.
BARTIROMO: And corporate America.
LEVINE: And perhaps even our own government —
LEVINE: With Hunter Biden and — and why was Joe Biden’s response to the Chinese balloon so tepid and so — and so mealymouthed? And then you — you see Hunter’s business deals operating in the background there. We don’t really know, so…
BAKER: Good use of the word tepid.
LEVINE: Thank you.
BAKER: Enes, I’ve got one question.
FREEDOM: Of course.
BAKER: And I apologize for asking this. Has there been a moment since you’ve been engaged in essentially this effort to raise awareness, has there been a moment where you’ve stepped back and you thought, you know, maybe I shouldn’t have done this, maybe I should have focused on my career?
FREEDOM: You know, a lot of people actually ask me this question. You know, you lost millions of dollars, you lost your career and stuff. But people need to understand, this is bigger than myself. This is bigger than NBA. This is bigger than basketball.
Whenever I sit down and have a conversation with these Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese people, Uyghurs and Mongolians and Falun Gongs, and if I — whenever I hear what they’re going through, I was like, you know what, this is just bigger than basketball, man.
FREEDOM: I cannot just stay silent.
BARTIROMO: And that’s why you posted a tweet taking a jab at LeBron, okay.
BARTIROMO: So you’re — you’re tweeting and LeBron James over his new $1 billion partnership with Nike.
BARTIROMO: He — you know, Nike hasn’t said anything about the Uyghur situation. Tell me about this billion-dollar deal and what you put on this — on this tweet. “Zero morals, zero values, zero principles, zero empathy, one bow down to China, congratulations King James.”
FREEDOM: So, I — I put this tweet out there when he become the — you know, the most scoring —
BAKER: Scoring champion.
FREEDOM: Yes, scoring champion. But I want to talk about Nike first because when you look at Nike, in America they stand with Black Lives Matter, no Asian hates, LGBTQ community, Latino community — but when it comes to China, I mean everybody knows about the slave labors and sweat shops, you know.
FREEDOM: And LeBron just became a billionaire, I believe, like a couple months ago. And what else do you want? Go out there and talk about what’s — he has three kids. And think about your — put your kids in their shoes, you know? They’re making this — there’s so much oppression, there’s so much blood and sweat behind those shoes that you’ve been wearing every time you go out there and play basketball.
BARTIROMO: Yeah, what a great point.
MARK TEPPER: Yes, it’s a fantastic point. And I’m wondering, you know, LeBron holds himself out as an activist himself.
FREEDOM: Oh, geez.
TEPPER: You know, he does his — his podcasts and things like that.
TEPPER: And he acts like he is an activist. And he’s probably, you know, he’s veering outside of his lane. But how can you hold yourself out there as an activist when you are turning a blind eye to the genocide and the slavery in China? Why is it OK —
BARTIROMO: Is it all BS?
TEPPER: For slavery in China to be — to be a thing?
FREEDOM: Well, because, the things that he talks about in America is not going to affect his money or business.
FREEDOM: You know, it’s not going to affect his jersey sales or shoe sales, whatever.
And I was actually having a conversation with one of the — one of his teammates, and he said, whatever he’s doing, he does not care about, he just wants to do his own PR, you know?
TEPPER: I believe that. I believe that.
BARTIROMO: Enes, do you have any interest in running for office, public office?
FREEDOM: I actually do. I actually do, yes.
BARTIROMO: Nice. Nice.
FREEDOM: That will be very interesting because, I mean —
BARTIROMO: What would you like to do? You’d like to — like to be a member of Congress?
FREEDOM: I would actually when the time is right. And shout out to, you know, whoever is out there listening. Yes, of course, I would love to.
BAKER: How would you feel about taking on the job of secretary of transportation?
FREEDOM: You actually — interesting. I like that. I saw the video yesterday.
BARTIROMO: No, no, but, look, hold on, are you — are you right now making plans to run for public office?
FREEDOM: Yes. Yes, I do. Yes.
BARTIROMO: Are you raising money?
FREEDOM: Not yet. I haven’t started yet. But I started to have conversations with some my friends and members of Congress.
BARTIROMO: Terrific. Enes, thanks very much for breaking the news on this program.
BAKER: A principled man.
FREEDOM: Thank you guys so much. I appreciate it.
BARTIROMO: Great to see you, sirs. Enes Kanter Freedom, you are a superstar, so courageous.
FREEDOM: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Baily, Kayla. “Former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom mulling run for office.” Fox Business. February 23, 2023. https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/former-nba-player-enes-kanter-freedom-mulling-run-office
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