On Sunday, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter continued his anti-Chinese Communist Party campaign by releasing sneakers with images inspired by the Tiananmen Square massacre and what appears to be an illustration of himself holding the severed head of Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh was banned from China by the Communist Party in 2017 after anti-communist dissidents began using the cartoon bear to mock dictator Xi Jinping’s portly figure.
Other countries, including Western nations, have moved to silence or remove images of Winnie the Pooh in order to keep Xi from seeing the bear in the coming years.
Kanter debuted a line of sneakers that will be worn on the court during National Basketball Association (NBA) games and feature designs by Chinese-Australian artist Badiucao, whose work criticizes authoritarian regimes, particularly the Chinese Communist Party.
The NBA is extremely popular in China, where it generates billions of dollars. Statements made by NBA figures against China have previously resulted in significant financial distress for the league, most notably when then-Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a message of support to anti-communist Hong Kong protesters in 2019, resulting in “hundreds of millions” of dollars in losses.
Morey only tweeted one message, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong,” on his Twitter account, which Chinese citizens are not permitted to use legally. Kanter’s sneakers conveyed his message to Chinese citizens who were watching his games. Tencent, a Chinese streaming service, has canceled Celt’s broadcasts.
“Someone has to teach you a lesson,” Kanter wrote on social media on Sunday evening, debuting the Tiananmen Square shoes. “You can NOT buy me. You can NOT scare me. You can NOT silence me.”