When LeBron James returned to action on Friday for the final chapter of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, he also returned for the final chapter of Celtics center Enes Kanter’s personal rivalry with him.
Kanter, who has voiced her opinion on a number of social issues, recently dedicated her Twitter account to speak out against the Chinese government and Nike, including major sponsors like James and Michael Jordan.
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This season, Kanter has also expressed himself through images and messages on custom sneakers worn during games. His latest custom shoes specifically targeted James.
Before the Celtics’ meeting with the Lakers, Kanter shared images of the custom shoes he would wear for the game. The sneakers featured James’ image along with other images. In the tweet itself, which tagged James and Nike, Kanter wrote “Money over morale for the ‘King'”.
Money over morale for the “King” 👑
It’s sad and disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice
They really “shut up and haggle” when Big Boss 🇨🇳 says so
Did you educate yourself on the slave labor that made your shoes or is that not part of your research? pic.twitter.com/YUA8rGYeoZ
– Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) November 18, 2021
Following the Lakers’ 130-108 loss at TD Garden, James was asked about Kanter’s use of his image.
“If you know me, I don’t really give my energy to a lot of people, and he’s definitely not someone I give my energy to,” James said of Kanter. “[He’s] trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself. “
James continued, adding that Kanter “has always had a word or two to say in my direction, and as a man, if you have a problem with someone, you really do reach out to him. He had his chance tonight. I [had] I saw him in the hall. He walked beside me. “
LeBron on Enes Kanter: “He’s trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself … As a man, if you have a problem with someone, reach out to him. He had his chance tonight. I saw him in the hallway and he walked to my side.pic.twitter.com/KYDh5o6AMA
– Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 20, 2021
While not in the hallway, Bleacher Report’s A. Sherrod Blakely shared a pregame video of Kanter passing James on the court during a pregame practice.
Moments after LeBron James walked onto the court to warm up, right behind him is Enes Kanter, who on more than one occasion has criticized LBJ for not speaking more about social injustices outside the US. #retro pic.twitter.com/l8lBkXcJvN
– A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) November 19, 2021
It is difficult to pin down the beginning of the ongoing feud between James and Kanter, but one of the first notable matchups occurred when James was still with the Cavaliers and Kanter was with the Knicks. Kanter objected to James’ comments. that the Knicks should have selected Dennis Smith Jr. over Frank Ntilikina.
The following night, James, Ntilikina, and Kanter were at the center of a brief mid-game fight.
In addition to criticism of his relationship with Nike, Kanter appeared on CNN in October and criticized James for his refusal to become a public defender of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Celtics and Lakers will meet for the second and final time this season on Tuesday, December 7.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.