Enes Freedom, whose original name was Enes Kanter, was one of the more interesting non-superstar personalities in the NBA. He was a decent big man with glaring defensive weaknesses, but he always gave his all. On the other hand, Freedom is very outspoken on social and political issues, which is probably why he’s out of an NBA job. What happened to Enes Freedom after his NBA stint? Has he hung up his sneakers for good?
Who is Enes Kanter Freedom?
Enes Kanter Freedom’s basketball career featured several twists and turns. From Zurich, his family returned to Turkey and then moved to the United States at age 17. He verbally agreed to play college ball at Washington but then did an about-turn and chose Kentucky.
Overview of His NBA Career
Born on May 20, 1992, in Zurich, Switzerland, Enes Kanter is a Turkish basketball player who played in the NBA for 11 seasons. On November 29, 2021, Kanter became a U.S. citizen, and the Enes Freedom name change followed later. His legal name is now Enes Kanter Freedom. He has worn his new name on the back of his jersey while playing for the Boston Celtics in the 2021-22 season.
Freedom started his NBA career promisingly. Drafted third overall by the Utah Jazz in 2011, he played all 66 games of the shortened season and became a rotation player as a rookie. By his third year, Freedom was a part-time starter but still had to compete with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors for minutes. Still, he completed the season averaging 12.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG.
Freedom was traded to the OKC Thunder in the middle of the 2014-15 season. In his last 26 games with the Thunder, he blossomed into a double-double machine, finishing the homestretch with an average of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
After his stint with the Thunder, he played for New York, Portland (twice), and Boston (twice). His career averages are 11.2 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting almost 55% from the floor.
As a player, Kanter Freedom was a strong low post operator, rebounder, and second-chance opportunist. However, he can barely do anything else, as evidenced by his assists (0.9 APG), steals (0.4 SPG), and blocks (0.5) numbers in his career. He last played for the Boston Celtics in the 2021-22 season and was traded to Houston near the trade deadline. He was waived by the Rockets a few days later, unofficially ending his NBA career.
Kanter Freedom believed his anti-China stance put a target on his back and was the main reason why no NBA team signed him to a contract. NBA commissioner Adam Silver denied Freedom’s claim and that the latter ‘has every right to say anything he is passionate about.’
What Happened to Enes Kanter?
Kanter is currently not in the NBA after a short second stint with the Boston Celtics. He was waived by the Houston Rockets after being traded, and he never appeared on an NBA court again.
At only 30 years old, Kanter Freedom said he felt he had six or seven years left of playing, but his political views got him in trouble. Instead of a million-dollar contract, he faces a bounty courtesy of Turkish leader President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Freedom has been very outspoken against Erdogan, stemming from the Turkish corruption scandal in 2013. He even went as far as calling Erdogan the “Hitler of our century” on Twitter.
The Enes Kanter bounty currently stands at 10 million Turkish lire, roughly equivalent to $500,000.
According to Freedom, things have become more dangerous since. Before the bounty was announced, Turkish intelligence was only hunting for persons on the most-wanted list, but now everyone was in it for the money. He is also exploring suing the National Basketball Association for blackballing him out of the league for his anti-China protests.
Freedom has constantly been in trouble for speaking against Erdogan. He experienced multiple travel disruptions when Turkey revoked his citizenship and passport.
At one time, Kanter Freedom fled Indonesia in the middle of the night after supposed government officials looked for him in his basketball camp. After fleeing Indonesia, Kanter was detained in Romania after the Turkish embassy canceled his passport. He eventually made his way to London and U.S. soil after the debacle, but now without getting his life in the line of fire.
In 2019, Kanter decided not to take part in trips to London and Toronto, Canada, in fear for his life. He is currently being protected round the clock and has been in constant communication with law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.
Where is Enes Kanter Now? Did He Retire?
Enes Kanter Freedom is currently living in an undisclosed location in Washington, DC, for obvious reasons. That puts him in close proximity to various United States law enforcement and intelligence agencies, such as the FBI, Homeland Security, and CIA.
After leaving the NBA, he has been hosting interfaith basketball camps for youngsters to build togetherness and visiting different countries to meet with leaders as human rights activists.
While he feels he can still play basketball, it certainly looks like his NBA career has come to a close. His current security situation makes it very dangerous to play basketball overseas, especially in Europe and Asia. With the door to a basketball return practically closing, Kanter already had a career option in mind– a professional wrestling career in the WWE.
In an interview with TMZ Sports, Kanter revealed he was already in talks with the top WWE brass for him to make the transition. He already had a short taste of professional wrestling when back in 2019, Kanter made an appearance on Monday Night RAW. He did win the WWE 24/7 championship against R-Truth (not shown in the broadcast) and then lost it later during the broadcast.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happened to Enes Freedom?
Enes Kanter Freedom carved out a nice NBA career in 11 seasons. He came out of Turkey by way of Zurich, Switzerland, but decided to move to the United States to pursue a basketball career. He then became a one-and-done prospect of the Kentucky Wildcats and got picked by the Jazz No. 3 in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Early on, it is apparent that Kanter will be a solid rotational NBA player for a long time. He got traded from the Utah Jazz to the OKC Thunder, where he played his best basketball with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. From OKC, he bounced to New York, Portland, and Boston, playing for the last two teams twice on separate occasions.
And then it went all downhill from there. Freedom was an outspoken critic of President Erdogan of Turkey and voiced strong opinions about the NBA’s Chinese ties. He publicly criticized LeBron James and WWE wrestler John Cena for being pro-China. Freedom’s stance on both issues, directly and indirectly, cost him his basketball career and safety.
Kanter Freedom experienced various travel disruptions and the Turkish intelligence on his tail. His Turkish passport was revoked before he received his U.S. citizenship. This led to the Enes Freedom name change. In January 2023, the Turkish government officially put out an Enes Kanter bounty worth roughly $500,000.
So, what happened to Enes Freedom after his NBA stint? Unsurprisingly, he remains outspoken about political and social issues while being cautious for his safety. Kanter Freedom lives in Washington, DC, and remains in contact with the FBI and other agencies for his protection. And while he may not grace an NBA court anytime soon, he might become a fixture in professional wrestling. If you’re rooting for Enes Kanter Freedom, that’s as good as it gets.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.
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