Over the past days, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has gone after China for their treatment of the Tibetan people and their imprisonment of the Uyghur Muslims.
Now, Kanter is turning his attention to those who profit off of Chinese labor.
In a video posted to his social media account on Monday, Kanter went after Nike and founder Phil Knight for their unwillingness to speak out on atrocities committed by the Chinese government.
“Your company says that you’re making a positive impact in our communities,” Kanter said. “And that is true. Yes, you are. Here, in the United States, Nike stands with Black Lives Matter. Nike stands with Stop Asian Hate. Nike stands with the Latino community. And Nike stands with the LGBTQ community … But when it comes to China, Nike remains silent.”
“You do not address [police brutality] in China, you do not speak about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, you do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China. You are scared to speak up.”
Kanter went on to claim that Nike’s products are produced by forced labor, specifically Uyghur forced labor.
Last year, The Washington Post reported that Chinese authorities had forced hundreds of ethnic Uyghurs from the country’s western Xinjiang region to work in a shoe factory that supplies Nike. A Nike spokesperson told the outlet that the company’s suppliers are “strictly prohibited from using any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labor,” and the company later said the factory in question stopped hiring new workers from Xinjiang in 2019.
“Who makes your shoes in China? Do you even know? There are so many forced labor factories in China,” Kanter said. “For instance, Uyghur forced labor. A modern-day slavery. And it is happening right now in China …”
“Did you know that almost the entire apparel and footwear industry is tainted by Uyghur forced labor? Many well-known global brands are implicated,” he continued. “And yes, that includes one of the NBA’s biggest sponsors, Nike. Nike claims that they do not allow any forced labor in their supply chains. Yet, they don’t have the receipts to prove it. … Don’t forget, every time you put those shoes on your feet, or you put that t-shirt on your back, there are some many tears and so much oppression, and so much blood behind it all.”
In 2015, Nike and the NBA agreed to an 8-year apparel deal beginning with the 2017-2018 NBA season worth a reported $1 billion.
“This partnership with Nike represents a new paradigm in the structure of our global merchandising business,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at the time. “As our exclusive oncourt apparel provider, Nike will be instrumental in our collective efforts to grow the game globally while applying the latest in technology to the design of our uniforms and oncourt products.”
Kanter ended the video by calling out Nike’s founder, along with LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“Nike likes to say ‘Just Do It.’ Well, what are you doing about the slave labor that makes your shoes? That slave labor that makes you rich,” Kanter said. “To the owner of Nike — Phil Knight — I have a message for you. How about I book plane tickets for us, let’s fly to China together. We can try to visit these slave labor camps and you can see with your own eyes. LeBron James and Michael Jordan, you guys are welcome to come too. Nike must be a participant in this. Stop the hypocrisy. Stop the modern-day slavery now.”
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 25, 2021
The reaction to Kanter’s initial video was swift, with Chinese streaming service Tencent — which has partnered with the NBA — cutting the live feed of the Celtics vs Knicks game. On Thursday, future Celtics games were marked as unavailable to be live-streamed, according to The New York Times.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
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