Why Celtics center Enes Kanter is changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom

As part of the process of officially gaining U.S. citizenship, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Per Charania’s report, Kanter will now be the 29-year-old’s middle name and Freedom will be his new last name.

While it may seem like just a name change, for Freedom it is much, much more.

Born in Switzerland to Turkish parents, Freedom was raised in Turkey before moving to the United States in 2009 to attend high school and later attend the University of Kentucky, where he was deemed ineligible to play. 

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The No. 3 overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Freedom has now been in the United States for over 12 years but has remained in touch with happenings in his native Turkey as he has continuously spoken out against the Turkish government, resulting in an international warrant for his arrest.

“Freedom” has long been a word of significance for Freedom, whose Twitter bio reads “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE,” while his header reads “freedom for all.”

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A search through Freedom’s Twitter timeline shows more of the same, including a June 2020 tweet in which he shared that he would be receiving U.S. citizenship in 2021, writing that “I won’t take for granted the freedom I have in this country that Turkey took away from me.”

One month later, the Celtics center shared that the word “Freedom” would be the social justice message displayed on the back of his jersey during the NBA Restart in the Orlando “bubble,” penning that “freedom is essential for all.”

Freedom is Essential for ALL ✊ pic.twitter.com/56DqpEyVCD

— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) July 31, 2020

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Freedom would later share another image of the back of his jersey along with a Malcolm X quote tying peace to freedom. 

You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless she/he has his freedom.

Malcolm X pic.twitter.com/8LyvxDa74D

— Enes Kanter FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) August 2, 2020

A member of the Celtics at the time of the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season, the visual of “Freedom” on the back of a Celtics jersey will essentially look the same, save for a number change, as Freedom now wears No. 13 after a year spent with the Portland Trail Blazers.

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