LeBron James Calls Out ‘Slave Mentality’ of ‘Old, White Men’ NFL Owners

“This is my team, and you do what the f— I tell you all to do, or we get rid of y’all,” NBA star says about pro football bigwigs on his show “The Shop”

LeBron James thinks that NFL owners need to drop what he called their “slave mentality” regarding athletes on their teams and how they express themselves politically, on or off the field.

“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men on teams, and they’ve got that slave mentality,” James said on the latest episode of his HBO show “The Shop,” which aired Friday. “This is my team, and you do what the f— I tell you all to do, or we get rid of y’all.”

James then contrasted that stance with the NBA, applauding commissioner Adam Silver for giving athletes more autonomy and feels the NFL should do the same in regards to the debate over kneeling players during the national anthem.

“Every Sunday, without Todd Gurley, without Odell Beckham Jr., and without those players, there’s no football,” James said. “You’re not disrespecting the Rams or the Lakers or whatever the case may be. I’m very educated in what I believe in, and I’m not doing it in a violent way. I’m not knocking on your door saying, listen, I’m kneeling today, and if you don’t kneel with me I’m knocking you the f— out, but you know people go crazy when things are done outside the box.”

James’s “The Shop” is a roundtable talk show set inside a barbershop. For the latest episode, he invited Los Angeles Rams player Todd Gurley, who sparked a frank discussion about the health of players and how they often struggle t0 both push themselves during games and sustain the longevity of their career.

“As I say, your best ability is availability,” Gurley said.

James also contrasted the differences between the NBA and the NFL in this regard, saying that owners look at basketball players as having “potential” and long-term contributions, whereas the NFL is focused on what you as an athlete can do on the field today. The NBA also provides players long-term, guaranteed contracts, while the NFL does not, further exerting the control owners have over players.

James has previously been critical of the NFL’s stance on kneeling and of President Trump, supporting the national anthem protests and participating in some of his own in the NBA.

Below is a full transcript of James’s remarks about NFL owners.

“Control. In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men on teams, and they’ve got that slave mentality. This is my team, and you do what the f— I tell you all to do, or we get rid of y’all. I’m so appreciative in our league, of our commissioner. He doesn’t mind us having the feeling, to be able to actually have a real feeling and be able to express that. It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we’re saying, he at least wants to hear us out. As long as we’re doing it in a very educational non-violent way, then he’s absolutely okay, because at the end of the day, the players are the people who make the ship go.

Every Sunday, without Todd Gurley, without Odell Beckham Jr., and without those players, there’s no football. It’s the same in the NBA, certain players and certain teams. You’re not disrespecting the Rams or the Lakers or whatever the case may be. I’m very educated in what I believe in, and I’m not doing it in a violent way. I’m not knocking on your door saying, listen, I’m kneeling today, and if you don’t kneel with me I’m knocking you the f— out, but you know people go crazy when things are done outside the box. People go crazy and don’t know how to react.”

The third episode of the HBO series “The Shop,” from HBO Sports and “Uninterrupted,” starring James and Maverick Carter, is available on HBO Go and HBO Now. The episode also features appearances by Mary J. Blige, Lena Waite, Jimmy Kimmel, Todd Gurley, Chris Bosh, Ice Cube and Nas.