WASHINGTON (TND) — One of the greatest basketball players of all time spoke out against vaccine mandates in his podcast this week.
Shaquille O’Neal is a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee who has won multiple NBA championships. On his podcast, “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” he encouraged listeners to “be safe” and protect themselves and their families from threats like COVID-19, but he pushed back against the idea of forcing people to get vaccinated against their will.
Look, I encourage everybody to be safe and take care of your family, I do,” O’Neal says while speaking with his show co-hosts Nischelle Turner and Anthony “Spice” Adams. “But there’s still some people that don’t wanna take it. And you shouldn’t have to be forced to take something you don’t want.
Turner, in continuing the conversation, says her employer, CBS, has a vaccine mandate for its workers. “That’s forced”, O’Neal says in response to her.
It is forced. Because if the man don’t take it, the man gonna get fired,” O’Neal says.
O’Neal and Turner argue if it was fair for any private company to fire a worker for not being vaccinated. O’Neal says workers shouldn’t have to shed their “morals” to keep their job, but he agreed with Turner when she said workers who don’t comply with company rules should be shown the door.
I’m with you on the rules because I’m a rules guy,” O’Neal says. “But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision.
This comes after O’Neal was openly critical of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who was refusing to get vaccinated.
Speaking with USA Today in October, O’Neal says “sometimes you have to be selfless.”
The day I decided it wasn’t all about me and it’s about us is the day I started winning and really started dominating,” O’Neal says. “I understand the issues and all that. But I took the vaccine because I’m not trying to get my mother sick, or my sister or my brother or people around me. I know people say, ‘The vaccine came too fast, and is it healthy?’ To each his own. But sometimes you have to think about the overall picture, and you have to think about more than yourself.
Speaking on his podcast in September, O’Neal says if he was Irving’s teammate at the time, he would tell him to “get his a– up out of here.”
In this game of ours, sometimes you have to think about other people rather than yourself. Now, Kyrie has his views. He has his opinions. I’m not going to knock that, but he does have an obligation, because he took that 200 million,” O’Neal says. “… But if you’re on my team and you can’t play home games, I don’t want you around. Like, we have a chance to win and if you ain’t on the program, go somewhere else, period.
Later, in January, O’Neal had harsher words for Irving.
I don’t see how the team could put up with that, I’m just saying, O’Neal says on his podcast. “If he was on my team I’d have to put hands on him… I know for a fact that these windows of winning championships, you don’t have them a lot… All that stuff… just playing on the road, you can’t get in no rhythm like that.
The Big Podcast with Shaq is a weekly podcast in which listeners can join the NBA legend and his co-hosts as they “go big on everything from music and sports to what’s trending in pop culture” according to its summary. Shaq’s comments on the vaccine mandates can be heard in the Feb. 3 episode of his podcast, titled “The Big DM”.