In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the severeness of illness from the virus, vaccine mandates have been imposed all throughout the world. Shaquille O’Neal is not a fan of the requirement.
During a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” the former Lakers star spoke to Nischelle Turner of Entertainment Tonight and former San Francisco 49ers player Anthony “Spice” Adams about his thoughts on the mandate. “Look, I encourage everybody to be safe and take care of your family, I do,” he said. “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.”
As O’Neal explained, he is “sympathetic” toward people who defy the vaccine but are forced to choose between their livelihoods and “going against [their] morals” because of provisions at their jobs. Turner, however, disagreed with his point of view. “You’re not just affecting yourself, you’re putting the public at risk and it’s a public health issue,” she retorted. “You work for a private company, bro. 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.”
O’Neal has changed his tune since he voiced his opinion on Kyrie Irving’s unvaccinated stance and its effect on the Brooklyn Nets’ success. “I would go upstairs and say ‘get him up outta here. Get him up outta here’ We can win with the one-two punch, a great shooter, and the rebounders we have,” he previously said. “Cause now every day, we have to answer questions about him and what he’s doing. Get his ass up outta here. Whoever owns the Brooklyn Nets, get him outta here.”
Months later, when Irving returned as a part-time player, O’Neal said it was affecting his chemistry with his teammates.
“When I won my floor, we was close,” said the sports analyst. “We was tight, we fought, we argued, we went to each others kids’ birthday parties, we went to parties on the road, we held secrets, we did a lot of things, we stuck up for each other, we trusted each other, you can’t do that with people coming in and out.”