“You Shouldn’t Be Forced To Take Something You Don’t Want” | Shaq Gives His Opinion On COVID-19 Vaccinations

These days, Shaq has become a fountain of knowledge, offering words of wisdom to the NBA's new generation via his seat at the TNT hoops table.
Shaq at an NBA All Star Game

As the pandemic continues, more star athletes and former athletes are providing their opinions on the vaccine mandates.

Shaquille O’Neal has weighed in now. The big fella and his take might surprise many. O’Neal took to his platform to let the world know that he is “sympathetic” toward those who resist vaccine mandates.

He also feels that workers should not be “forced” to choose between their jobs and taking the vaccine. The comments come when NBA and NFL stars have defeated the initial public scrutiny they faced for their decisions not to take the vaccine.

“I encourage everybody to be safe and take care of your family, I do,” he said on “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” “But it’s just, people don’t want to take it, and you shouldn’t be forced to take something you don’t want.”

Co-hosts former San Francisco 49ers player Anthony “Spice” Adams and Nischelle Turner discussed the recent arrest of two nurses on Long Island accused of generating $1.5 million from forged COVID-19 vaccination cards.

The creation of a fraudulent vaccination card is a federal offense. However, Shaq had a different take on the crime.

“Don’t send them to jail!” said O’Neal. “I’m gonna probably get in trouble for this.”

“Say Nischelle, your sound guy at ‘ET’ [‘Entertainment Tonight’] been working there 10 years,” Shaq continued. “That [job is] all you know. Let’s just say ‘ET’ puts out a new policy: If you don’t get the vaccination, you’re going to lose your job,” O’Neal said.

Ironically, Shaquille O’Neal was a prominent critic of Kyrie Irving, who decided not to take the vaccine and subsequently wasn’t allowed to play for the Brooklyn Nets. New York City has an indoor mandate that requires professional basketball players to be vaccinated to play indoors.

“I try not to belittle another man’s opinion,” Shaq said in a past epsiode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq.” “However, let me tell you what I think. 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.”

Shaq made similar comments on the Tiki and Tierney radio show in the past as well.

“I would go upstairs and say ‘get (Kyrie) up out of here. Get him outta here’… Whoever owns the Nets, get his ass up outta here.”

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Shaq’s new position sits in stark contrast with his past statements, and his podcast co-host Nischelle Turner wasn’t about to co-sign Shaq Diesel.

“You’re not just affecting yourself,” Turner said, “you’re putting the public at risk, and it’s a public health issue.”

“You work for a private company, bro,” Turner continued. “We’re a capitalist society. It’s a free market society. If you don’t want to follow that company’s policy, then you follow yourself on out the door.”

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However, O’Neal conceded a bit when Turner brought up the business protocols of the NBA taking over a personal decision.

“I’m with you on the rules because I’m a rules guy,” O’Neal acquiesced. “But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision.”

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.