NEWARK, NJ – NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal was highly critical of COVID-19 vaccination mandates, reversing his previous stance on getting the jab by saying on his podcast that “You shouldn’t be forced to take something you don’t want.”
O’Neal – well-known by the nickname “Shaq” throughout his championship basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat – told the listeners of his “The Big Podcast with Shaq” that he felt people should be vaccinated to protect their loved ones, but that no one should be mandated to take something into their bodies that they don’t want.
“But it’s just, people don’t want to take it, and you shouldn’t be forced to take something you don’t want,” he said.
O’Neal and his co-host Nischelle Turner argued if it was justifiable to fire someone that works for a private company if they had refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on the grounds that it would be an affront to their moral principles. Shaq stated that he felt it was “wasn’t fair” for a privately-owned company to impose their health standards upon their employees.
However, Turner said if a worker didn’t want to comply with an employer’s vaccination mandate, they always have the option of quitting their job.
“I’m with you on the rules because I’m a rules guy,” O’Neal replied. “But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision.”
This viewpoint represented an about-face for the legendary NBA star; in October 2021, Shaq was vocal about his opposition to Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving refusing to get the jab, saying that “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,” he said. “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.”