LeBron James didn't mince words during the Dec. 21 episode of HBO's "The Shop" when discussing certain differences between the NFL and NBA, and the level of respect shown to the athletes of each league by ownership.
"In the NFL, they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality," James said, according to The Washington Post's Ben Golliver. "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.'"
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar went on to show his appreciation for Adam Silver, saying he feels the NBA commissioner provides players with the freedom to be activists for political and social change without fear of reprimand.
"He doesn't mind us having ... a real feeling and to be able to express that," he said. "It doesn't even matter if Adam 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 okay with it."
The NFL announced in May that a national anthem policy had been approved by owners for the 2018 season, but it was quickly shelved months later under an agreement with the NFLPA. The policy would have required players and personnel to stand or remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem. It was in response to multiple players, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick, kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality.
"I am very educated about what I believe in and I'm not doing it in a violent way," James said. "I'm not knocking on your door saying, 'Listen, I'm kneeling today and if you don't kneel with me, I'll knock you the f--- out.' But you know people go crazy when things are done outside the box. People don't know how to react."
James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul used the opening segment of the 2016 ESPYs to speak out against violence in the United States. In 2014, James and several other players donned "I Can't Breathe" shirts in support of Eric Garner, who was killed after a confrontation with police, after he was put in a chokehold.
The 33-year-old also wore a "Kaepernick" shirt prior to the Lakers' third preseason game and has voiced his support for the quarterback on numerous occasions.