NBA star LeBron James has voiced some of the strongest criticism of NFL team owners’ attitudes from a professional sportsman, blasting what he called “a slave mentality” with regard to their players, many of whom are African Americans.
Appearing on HBO’s “The Shop” James accused white owners of US football teams of attempting to stand in the way of their players’ political self-expression, stating unequivocally that these people threaten strict measures if their players do not agree with something that they have been told to do:
“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.’”
However, the four-time NBA MVP went on to laud Adam Silver, his league’s commissioner, for his predominantly supportive stance on players having their say about politics, “and it doesn’t even matter if he agrees with what we are saying”.
“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”.
James expressed the way he sees the differences between the two sports approaches to athletes, noting they lie in the fact that unlike the NFL, the NBA focuses on a player’s contributions not solely in the immediate future, but in the long run, including off the field.
“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," James pointed out.
Meanwhile, James’s words met a variety of reactions on Twitter, with many unable to resist the temptation to mock players’ royalties worth millions of dollars for having “to listen to old white men” for the better part of the year. One even noted there is nothing wrong in subordination, especially is someone “owns something.”
A slave that stands to make about $30M+ this season. No doubt the oppression is real here. 😒🙄— 🎅 #joshNYaClause 🎄 (@joshNYa78) 22 декабря 2018 г.
I honestly feel so bad for Lebron and these other superstars. Having to listen to “old white men” for 6-8 months out of the year and getting paid millions of dollars 😭😢 Its really a tough life for them. Tragic.— Ty Carrier (@Ty_Carrier15) 22 декабря 2018 г.
Well that's exactly what owners can do…I think LeBron just discovered how businesses are ran in America. NFL players make millions to play a game with the stipulation that you cant kneel and protest on the job and that's a slave mentality?— Eric Spicer (@eric_spicer2) 22 декабря 2018 г.
Well, when you own something, you can sorta do that. Lol.— Stephen Treadway (@Stread23) 22 декабря 2018 г.
A million-dollar contract is very slave like. The owner is the “boss”… Just like any boss, they want things done the way they like. What is wrong with that?— Jack Hollinshead (@jhollinshead10) 22 декабря 2018 г.
Side note: OBJ gets hurt every year and is stuck to the sidelines. NFL still goes on.
One suggested James hadn’t perhaps been taught at secondary school what slavery actually is:
It looks like LeBum doesn’t know what slavery means or that it took place in other places other than just the US. How could he know? He hasn’t had to go to class since 6th grade bc he could hoop.— ChelseaTrump (@Mr_Che) 22 декабря 2018 г.
However others countered, saying the NBA superstar inadvertently portrayed any workplace, and this is what the definition of “business” entails:
Congrats LeBron. You have discovered the definition of a "business".— Aidan Dahm (@dahm_aidan) 22 декабря 2018 г.
He literally just described any workplace.— Mamushe Bef Moa (@debochiye) 22 декабря 2018 г.
This dude is dumber than I thought. He basically described any paid job 😂😂— Rafael Bitran (@RafaelBitran2) 22 декабря 2018 г.
The NFL has recently raised quite a bit of controversy over how the league has reacted to players’, namely Colin Kaepernick’s protests against police brutality and racial injustice, in which they took a knee when the national anthem was played before games. President Trump and many football fans condemned the move encouraging NFL owners to fire anthem protesters.
They viewed the NFL players’ motion as disrespect for the American flag, when they chose to take a knee during the song's performance. In May, the NFL issued a fresh national anthem policy requiring all players to stand during the anthem or alternatively remain in the locker room until the ceremony was over.