LeBron James strikes back at Celtics Center criticism of Nike-China ties – Deadline

All Lakers-Celtics games attract attention, but Friday night’s matchup in TD Garden was in even greater spotlight than usual.

First, it was the first night left for the Lakers’ LeBron James after a 10-game absence due to injury.

For another, Celtics backup center Enis Kanter called the Lakers star out on game day for reported worker abuse at Nike factories in China. James has a lifetime contract with Nike, and the forest giant also recently bought a piece from the NBA legend SpringHill Company.

“Money over morals for ‘The King’, Kanter wrote on Twitter.” Sad and disgusting how these athletes pretend they are interested in social justice … They really ‘shut up and dribble’ when Big Boss 🇨🇳 says it … Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that created your shoes, or is it not part of your research? “

“Shut up and dribble” is a reference to Laura Ingraham’s response in 2018, when James publicly criticized then-President Trump.

“Research” was a reference to the NBA superstar’s response when asked about the Covid vaccine. He said he got the shot because he did his research.

Kanter then wore playing shoes tonight, showing a drawing of James bending over as Chinese leader Xi Jinping puts a crown on his head.

Asked after the fight over the shoes, James said: “If you know me, I do not give very many people my energy. He is definitely someone I would not give my energy to.”

The superstar said Kanter “tried to use my name to create an opportunity for himself” before saying he “absolutely will not comment too much on it.” James then said with a smile, “He’s always had a word or two to say [in] my direction. If you have a problem with someone, then come to him… He had an opportunity [to do that] tonight. I saw him in the hallway warming up by himself. ”

However, James did not address the issues Kanter raised about Nike and China.

The Washington Post last year published a revelation documenting what appeared to be forced labor conditions among Uigher workers at a Chinese factory supplying the sneaker giant. Nike shoes are, of course, worn by most NBA players in all matches, including James. Nike also supplies the league’s uniforms and supplies its top stars with massively lucrative shoe contracts.

Kanter is a longtime critic of China, and James is not his only recent target. Earlier this week, the Boston player went after President Biden to the US leader’s video meeting with China’s Xi.

Late last month, less than a week after his team’s matches were pulled from Tencent-powered streaming platforms in China due to Kanter’s criticism of the country’s treatment of Tibetans, the player raised ante and shouted the country and Nike over the treatment of Ethnic minorities Uigher workers in factories there.

“Dear @Nike,” tweeted Kanter, “Stop today’s slavery !!!”

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