LeBron James is pretty much Teflon when it comes to controversies off the court, but a pair of recent instances have put him in the crosshairs of critics chomping at the bit. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar slammed NFL owners in a recent episode of his HBO show The Shop, and the sharing of a questionable 21 Savage lyric had him later apologizing for the act.
Speaking with business partner Maverick Carter Friday on his HBO Sports series The Shop, with guest stars Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams and rapper/actor Ice Cube, the Los Angeles Lakers forward called NFL owners “old white men” who, he said, acted like slave masters.
“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James said in the conversation. “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.’”
James then said it was the players who made the league, not the league making the players. “The players are who make the ship 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.”
Sports Business writer Darren Rovell shared a tweet out of LeBron James rapping the lyrics of 21 Savage’s “ASMR” track, which prompted a flurry of chatter criticizing James for doing so although there were some who didn’t think he was taking the anti-Semitism route. However, James told ESPN that he truly didn’t mean to offend anyone by sharing out the song.
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” James said to ESPN after his squad lost 107-99 to the Memphis Grizzlies. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously, it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”