We live in an insane world. You don't need me to tell you that. And yet I still found myself stunned to learn that there was discourse occurring last night theorizing Enes Kanter didn't play in the Boston Celtics opener because he made a statement on Tibet and China earlier in the day.
Yes. This is a thing.
Background: on Wednesday, Kanter posted a video condemning Xi Jingping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. Specifically, Kanter demanded Tibetan independence and shortly afterward announced he'd be wearing shoes that supported the cause. The video was posted six and a half hours before tip-off at Madison Square Garden, and the shoe announcement came 15 minutes beforehand.
Kanter did not play a single minute in the Celtics' double-OT loss to the New York Knicks. This led to galaxy-brain takes by verified accounts, including one by the CEO of The Atlantic, suggesting politics may have had a hand in Kanter's disappearance from the floor.
This, of course, is insane. Kanter signed with the Celtics this offseason on a veteran minimum contract. He is, at best, their 10th man. Kanter has his skills-- offensive rebounding and post scoring. He cannot do anything else.
Which is why Celtics head coach Ime Udoka did not play him. It was a tight contest throughout, as the two overtime periods would suggest. Kanter's biggest problem is that he cannot defend the pick-and-roll. In low-stakes games, Kanter can survive on the floor because the opposing team won't be targeting him every time they're on the floor. But on opening night at MSG where the biggest lead was only 12 points? Tom Thibodeau would have been all over Kanter the moment he stepped on the floor.
Maybe Kanter will face some penalty, since Celtics games were immediately yanked off Chinese broadcasting stations after he made the statement. The NBA has reacted to that kind of hit to the bottom line before with the Daryl Morey situation.
But the Celtics did not get an order from up top that they can't play Kanter. Get real.