LeBron James offered a scathing assessment of NFL team owners on the latest episode of "The Shop," saying the league is run by "old white men" with a "slave mentality" towards players.
In the new episode that aired Friday night on HBO, James spoke with business partner Maverick Carter, Los Angeles Rams star Todd Gurley and actor/rapper Ice Cube about NFL player protests over social injustice.
After Gurley called it "a touchy subject," James criticized NFL owners for wanting to exert "control." James went on to praise NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for his support of players speaking out in favor of social causes.
"In the NFL, they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality," James said. "And it's like, 'This is my team. You do what the (expletive) I tell y'all to do. Or we get rid of y'all.' "
"I'm so appreciative in our league of our commissioner" James added. "He doesn't mind us having .. a real feeling and be able to express that. It doesn't even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out. And as long as we are doing it in a very educational, non-violent way, then he's absolutely OK with it."
James has become one of the sports world's most vocal activists and philanthropists. He and many others in the NBA have made statements against gun violence and police brutality on several occasions in recent years with special warm-up shirts. After the Thousand Oaks shooting on Nov. 7, the Lakers and Hawks wore shirts with the word "Enough" to honor the victims and protest gun violence.
That NBA players have not faced any sort of repercussions from the league highlights the stark difference in the NFL.
Colin Kaepernick sparked years of intense debate and controversy when he knelt during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He hasn't played in the NFL since and ultimately filed a grievance against the league alleging owners colluded to keep him out.
The difference between the NBA and NFL hasn't gone unnoticed by James and his guests on the show.
"At the end of the day, the players are who make the ship go. We make it go," James said. "Every Sunday, without Todd Gurley and without Odell Beckham Jr., without those players, those guys, there is no football. And it’s the same in the NBA.
"The difference between the NBA and the NFL, the NBA (cares about) what we believe (a player) can be, the potential. 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."