For a man who once told reporters he wanted to be known as “The Big Aristotle,” NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sure has a curious idea about the shape of the Earth. During a recent episode of O’Neal’s podcast, the four-time NBA champion and co-host John Kincade touched on Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving’s comments last month about the Earth being flat.
Irving, who went to Duke, made headlines when he revealed he was a flat-Earther during a podcast with teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye.
“All these things that they keep giving to us, all this information, I’m just saying that these things that used to put me in fear, it makes you not want to question it naturally, because of how much information you actually can figure out and how much information there actually is out there,” Irving said. “It’s crazy. Anything that you have a particular question on, ‘Okay, is the Earth flat or round?’ I think you need to do research on it. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”
O’Neal’s research on the matter has apparently included driving cross-country a few times.
“It’s true,” O’Neal said on his own podcast when Kincade asked what he made of Irving’s theory. “The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yeah, it is. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind: what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but when he got there, there were some fair-skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America. So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me.”
“That is the dumbest thing you’ve ever said, ” Kincade replied, before both men started laughing. “It’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said. Ninety-two podcasts and that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said, and that’s a high bar to get over.”
“I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity, have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings?” O’Neal continued. “So you mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat. The world is flat.”
Now, there’s a chance that O’Neal was joking. He’s a learned big man, after all, having earned his bachelor’s in business from LSU in 2000 after leaving school without his degree to turn pro in 1992. In 2005, O’Neal completed online classes for a master’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix, and in 2012 received his doctoral degree in education from Barry University in Miami. For the sake of anyone O’Neal might one day be responsible for educating in his post-playing days, let’s hope his comments were made in jest.
Irving’s flat-Earth comments became such a story that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver referenced them during his state of the league news conference at the NBA All-Star Game.
“Kyrie and I went to the same college,” Silver said. “He may have taken some different courses than I did. … But, personally, I believe the world is round.”
There was some speculation after the All-Star Game that Irving didn’t actually believe what he said about the Earth being flat, but he revisited the topic on his podcast with Frye and Jefferson last week and didn’t seem to have changed his tune.
“It’s okay to think something that, I guess, the majority wouldn’t think,” he said. “I just didn’t like the fact that us being able to celebrate our individuality and things that we ultimately hold on to, and just because we don’t believe what the world thinks or what the majority thinks, then why punish that? That’s the only thing I felt like that got misconstrued is just that it’s okay to believe one thing.”
For the record, Aristotle celebrated his individuality by offering evidence that the Earth was spherical in 350 B.C.
(Thanks to Ball Don’t Lie’s Ben Rohrbach for sharing.)