LeBron James: NFL Owners 'Old White Men' with 'Slave Mentality' Toward Players

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 22, 2018

BROOKLYN, NY - DECEMBER 18:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on December 18, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  The Nets defeated the Lakers 115-110. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said Friday on his HBO Sports series The Shop that the NFL has "a bunch of old white men owning teams" who have a "slave mentality" toward players.

Ben Golliver of the Washington Post provided the full transcript:

Ben Golliver @BenGolliver

Story: Lakers' LeBron James takes aim at NFL owners, calling them 'old white men' with 'slave mentality' towards players @postsports https://t.co/AIWoHGLB4V https://t.co/1UePdZUZ4S

Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money reported May 18 that only two people of color owned or co-owned professional NFL teams: Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kim Pegula of the Buffalo Bills. The lack of diversity spreads through all major American sports leagues, with the NBA having the most people of color own or co-own teams (only three). The same goes for management and coaching positions as well.

James is one of a few people to call out the league and/or its owners over a "slave mentality" or something similar after NFL owners approved a national anthem policy whereas players must either stand or stay in the locker room. The policy was in direct response to NFL players protesting racial injustice and social inequality during the performance of the song.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, in response to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stating his players must have their "toe on the line" and stand during the anthem, said Jones had an "old plantation mentality."

Solomon Jones of Philly.com wrote that "team owners sometimes think and behave like slave owners."

Per Glen Martin of California Magazine, Cal sociology professor emeritus and civil rights activist Harry Edwards said the policy, which stated that players must stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room, is representative of a "plantation mentality." Edwards noted NFL owners "are wealthy, entitled and arrogant, and they essentially view their players as property, not human beings with rights guaranteed by the Constitution. ... [NFL team] owners are acting like plantation owners, insisting that any act of ‘rebellion’ must be squelched.”

James has never been afraid to use his platform to express his feelings on the world's most important issues, as Cord Jefferson of Bleacher Report noted in a July 23 piece. Chances are this won't be the last time we see James shun the "shut-up-and-dribble" request.