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Celtics’ Enes Kanter changing last name to Freedom upon becoming US citizen on Monday

Celtics veteran center Enes Kanter (right), denying Nets guard James Harden (left) during a recent game, has opted to alter his name to "Enes Kanter Freedom" as part of his naturalization as a US citizen.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

TORONTO — Enes Kanter will be known as “Enes Kanter Freedom” as of Monday when he is naturalized as a US citizen in a ceremony in Boston.

A source close to Kanter confirmed the name change and he posted a picture of a green Celtics jersey with “Freedom” on the back, although it was his former No. 11 jersey from his previous Boston stint. He wore his No. 13 “Kanter” jersey in Sunday night’s’ game against the Raptors.

Kanter has become one of the more outspoken players in the NBA, wearing specially designed shoes that criticize China’s actions in Hong Kong and Nike’s treatment of employees overseas. He had recently Tweeted he felt as if his playing time had been denied because of his off-the-court actions, but he recently has become part of the rotation with Robert Williams missing time with various injuries.


Kanter was born in Turkey but exiled from his home country because of his open criticism of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kanter has been separated from his father, who lives in Turkey, for years.

“We congratulated him as a group for getting his American citizenship last week,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “That’s who Enes is, we’re proud of him. Enes is who he is. He’s passionate about his stances and the name change; you look at [Ron] Artest [who changed his name to Metta Sandiford-Artest in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak] and guys that have done it in the past. It’s something he wants to express and we’re all for it.”

Udoka said he has not specifically spoken with Kanter about his political beliefs or his off-the-floor actions. While Kanter has spoken on several national news networks, he has not spoken with the Boston media since late September.

“He’s a guy who’s stepped up to the plate when his opportunity came with [Robert] Williams being out,” Udoka said. “That’s all we talked about was staying ready, putting the work behind the scenes when he wasn’t playing as much. He’s already been professional and ready to play when called upon.”


No let up

In the aftermath of the Celtics’ late blown lead against the San Antonio Spurs, who outscored Boston 15-0 in the final three minutes, forward Jayson Tatum said he did not sense any let up from the players.

“Did we take our foot off the gas? Honestly I don’t think so,” Tatum said. “I feel [expletive] we was down 26, we fought back, we gave it everything we had. Guys were out there competitive, I know that for sure. One or two [plays], maybe I should have kicked it in the corner on one of those [missed shots]. Instead of settling, somebody should have drove and attacked the basket. That wasn’t my impression from being on the floor that we took our foot off the gas. But if that’s how it seems, I guess, so be it. That’s not how it felt. Everybody gave it their all.

“[Expletive], if you’re down [26] and you come back and you’re up 7 then you got to be fighting. You got to be competing. We was trying to figure it out.”

Two days later, Udoka said there were several factors that led to that late-game breakdown, especially the scoring of Spurs guard Dejounte Murray.

“I didn’t think we defended him well, too intelligently, really crowded him at the 3-point line and let him get some driving angles,” Udoka said. “It was a little bit on everybody. Jaylen hugged up and got beat one time. Marcus [Smart] took a wrong angle and then he got one on Al [Horford] and the last one on Dennis Schröder. Until that point we had defended so well, 11 points in the first nine minutes of the quarter. We also didn’t score.”


Brown in, Schröder out

Brown, again listed as questionable with his right hamstring injury, worked out prior to the game and was declared healthy enough to play. The Celtics are being cautious with the injury and making him day-to-day until he feels completely comfortable.

Schröder was out with a sprained right ankle that he tweaked Friday at San Antonio. Schröder initially suffered the injury Nov. 5 against the Miami Heat and has been managing the injury the past few weeks. Udoka said Schröder should return Wednesday.

Josh Richardson joined the team Saturday after missing the past two games with a non-COVID sickness and was on the active list.

Raptors shorthanded

The Raptors were again shorthanded with leading scorer OG Anunoby sitting out with a hip pointer for the sixth consecutive game. Toronto coach Nick Nurse said the injury may be significant. Starting shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. (elbow) and backup center Khem Birch (knee soreness) were also out . . . The Celtics were to remain in Toronto overnight before flying home Monday. There were snow showers all day in Toronto but the travel plan had been previously scheduled. Boston doesn’t play again until Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m against the Philadelphia 76ers . . . The Raptors announced guard Goran Dragic is taking a leave from the team to attend to a personal matter. Dragic was acquired from Miami in exchange for Kyle Lowry and had asked for a trade in training camp.


Gary Washburn is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at gary.washburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.