The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers 130-108 on Friday, with Jayson Tatum spoiling LeBron James’ return to the court with a spectacular 37-point, 11-rebound performance at TD Garden.
James made his first start since Nov. 2 after missing the previous two weeks with an abdominal strain, and although his comeback was the talk of the NBA, Celtics big man Enes Kanter took a shot at James off the court before their matchup on it. Kanter, who has been vocal about China’s human rights violations since the beginning of the season, posted a photo of custom shoes he made for the Lakers game that featured LeBron bowing to Chinese President Xi Jinping, criticizing James for putting “money over morals” with his Nike line and its ties to China.
James was asked if he had a response to Kanter’s remarks after the game. Kanter had openly attempted to communicate with James in the past, and when the two spotted each other in the corridor at the TD Garden, Kanter didn’t approach him for an in-person talk and “walked right by me,” according to James.
It’s LeBron’s expected answer, since he’s not going to engage in a public brawl with Enes Kanter over this. Kanter has a lengthy history of speaking out on human rights concerns around the world, particularly in his own country of Turkey, where he fears prison time if he ever enters the nation, has had his Turkish passport withdrawn while traveling overseas, and has had family members imprisoned. As a result, criticisms that he’s just looking for attention are mistaken. However, as James points out, this is a dialogue that should, at least in part, be held in private as well, and his refusal to do so irritated LeBron in this case.