The Los Angeles Lakers player said that “in the NFL they got a bunch of old, white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” reported multiple media outlets. “And it’s like: ‘This is my team. You do what the fuck I tell y’all to do, or we get rid of y’all.’”
James contrasted the way in which NBA commissioner Adam Silver allowed basketball stars to politically express themselves on the court to the NFL’s attempt to stop players who take a knee during the national anthem before games in protest of police brutality and systemic racial injustice.
“It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we’re saying,” James said. “He at least wants to hear us out. As long as we are doing it in a very educational, non-violent way, then he’s absolutely OK with it because at the end of the day it’s the players that make the ship go.”
In October 2017, when he was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James wore footwear emblazoned with the word “Equality” during the season opener against the Boston Celtics in reported solidarity with the NFL protests sparked by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Facing a barrage of criticism from conservatives, including President Donald Trump, the NFL ruled in May that players had to stand during the anthem on the field, but could remain off field if they wished. The mandate was suspended, however, over a players’ union complaint that it violated their rights.
James also highlighted what he claimed was another way in which the NBA and NFL treated its athletes in this clip:
“The difference between the NBA and the NFL: the NBA (cares about) what we believe can be, the potential,” he said. “In the NFL, it’s what can you do for me this Sunday or this Monday or this Thursday. And if you ain’t it, we moving on.”