Basketball great Shaquille O’Neal was discussing a recent NBC News story about two nurses from Long Island, New York, who allegedly made $1.5 million each selling forged COVID-19 vaccination cards with his co-hosts, Nischelle Turner and Anthony “Spice” Adams, on Thursday’s edition of “The Big Podcast with Shaq.”
“Don’t send them to jail,” O’Neal said, blindsiding the others.
The former Los Angeles Lakers star said, “I’m gonna probably get in trouble for this. But let’s just say, Nischelle, you’re a sound guy at ‘ET’ [“Entertainment Tonight,” where Turner co-hosts]. … You’ve been working there 10 years. That [job is] all you know. … You go to work. Then when you come home, you have your beliefs.”
“Let’s just say ‘ET’ puts out a new policy,” he continued. “If you don’t get the vaccination, you’ll lose your job.
“The sound guy that’s been working there for 15 years now has a decision to make.”
O’Neal said he feels “sympathetic” toward people who are “forced” to decide between going against their morals and taking a vaccine they oppose or keeping their job.
“I encourage everybody to be safe and take care of your family, I do,” explained the basketball legend, who is vaccinated. “But it’s still some people that don’t want to take it, and you shouldn’t be forced to take something you don’t want.”
“I don’t think people are being forced to take — well, there are some. There are, I mean, listen, we have a mandate at CBS,” Turner said. CBS Media Ventures produces “ET.”
“That’s forced,” O’Neal adamantly replied.
As she continued to object, he said, “It is forced. Because if the man don’t take it, the man gonna get fired.”
Turner told Shaq she “wholeheartedly” disagreed with his stance on vaccine mandates.
“You’re not just affecting yourself,” she said. “You’re putting the public at risk and it’s a public health issue.”
“You work for a private company, bro,” Turner added. “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 replied, “I’m with you on the rules because I’m a rules guy. But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision.”
“I don’t. Not when you’re putting other people at risk,” Turner said.
In addition to the pushback from his co-host, O’Neal was criticized by many on social media.
Screw you, Shaq.
— Heather 🌈✡️🎭 (@WillSing4TP) February 4, 2022
It sucks that Shaq is against the vaccine mandate 😑
— 🇵🇭🇺🇸Drew (@FlipDeLand) February 4, 2022
Thank you @SHAQ for doing your part to prolong the pandemic.
— Peter Bothum (@peterbothum) February 4, 2022
I think Shaq should look and learn the data about covid. He needs to get educated.,
— Nonoyski (@Nonoyski21) February 4, 2022
Shaq’s ability to empathize with people who are suffering over the vaccine mandates is commendable.
But it wasn’t too long ago that he was far less tolerant of the unvaccinated.
The Hall of Famer was very critical of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving over his refusal to take the vaccine.
In a September interview with USA Today, O’Neal was asked where he stood on players such as Irving who refused to take the vaccine.
He replied, “In this line of work, 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. 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.”
O’Neal’s position has clearly evolved over the past few months. He is not anti-vaccine. He’s anti-mandate. And there is a vast difference between the two. He believes in medical liberty.
Like many of us, Shaq believes vaccines are a potent tool in the fight against COVID-19. Also like many of us, he believes people should have the right to choose what goes into their bodies.
It’s a shame so many on the left do not understand his perspective.
Perhaps time will soften their perspectives on this hot-button issue, as it did for O’Neal.
In the meantime, we’re happy to add Shaq’s voice to the chorus of those calling for an end to the medical tyranny of vaccine mandates.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.