LeBron James is not holding back in his assessment of NFL owners, accusing them of being “old white men” who have a “slave mentality” toward their players.
The NBA superstar made the remarks in Friday’s episode of The Shop on HBO, saying the league’s owners are trying to silence players from expressing their political opinions. As The Hill reported, James was trying to highlight the difference between the NFL and the NBA, where he praised commissioner Adam Silver for allowing players to express themselves, even if he doesn’t personally agree with their views.
As James said, the situation is very different in the NFL.
“In the NFL they just got a bunch of old, white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James says in the episode. “And it’s like, ‘This is my team. You do what the f— I tell y’all to do, or we get rid of y’all.'”
LeBron James had been vocal in his support of NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem in a protest of police brutality against minorities. Last year, after President Donald Trump criticized these players and called on NFL owners to fire them, James shot back. He criticized the argument that the players were disrespecting members of the U.S. military, pointing out that the protest had nothing to do with the military.
“It’s powerful what all these athletes are doing,” James said, via ABC News. “It’s not about the disrespect of our flag and the military that’s made this world free.”
LeBron James on the NFL: "they got a bunch of old white men owning teams, and they got that slave mentality…"
— Complex (@Complex) December 22, 2018
James went on to accuse Trump of trying to use sports to divide Americans and said he would not stand for it.
“Sports is so amazing, what sports can do for everyone — no matter shape, size, race — brings people together like no other. I’m not going to let one individual — no matter the power, the impact he or she should have — ever use sport as a platform to divide us,” James said. “The people run this country, not one person. And d**n sure not him.”
LeBron James himself has spoken out against police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men and boys, though sometimes has drawn criticism for not going far enough. In late 2015, many in Cleveland called on James to protest the lack of an indictment against a police officer who shot and killed Tamir Rice, a black boy who was playing with a pellet gun in a public park.