NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal stepped out from behind his NBA on TNT desk to discuss social and racial issues that have blended in with today’s sports stars.
“I don’t know [Kaepernick],” he said. “To each his own. You’ve got the right to voice your opinion. But my advice is to his followers: Don’t just do it when it’s convenient. And don’t do it to get your followers up. If you’re going to do it, do it like the ones before you have done it from day one.”
O’Neal, 45, also said Kaepernick’s Muhammad Ali comparison is “ludicrous. Muhammad Ali was fighting for a bigger cause since he was Cassius Clay. Every day. So I’ve never seen Kaepernick do anything in the community—I don’t really know him, but to each his own.” He continued, “Everybody has their voice, especially now with social media. A lot of people have these tweets, and they just want to say something when it’s convenient. But I don’t know if he said anything with Eric Garner, and all those others.”
Garner was a victim of police brutality when a NYPD police officer placed the Staten Island resident in a fatal chokehold in 2014. Unaware as to why so much force and police presence was needed to subdue him since he was unarmed, Garner repeatedly stated “I can’t breathe” before he died. But for O’Neal, who became a reserve police officer in Doral, Fla., two years ago, when he gets questioned by cops, taking his last breath sits at the bottom of his concerns.
“When I get stopped by the cops, I’m not worried. And it has nothing to do with being Shaq. You know why? I show respect,” he said. “‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ That’s how I was taught. I was raised by a drill sergeant, and that’s who I am. Doesn’t matter if it’s a black guy, white guy, whatever. I’m not going to make it uncomfortable for you, because I don’t want it uncomfortable for me. There’s not going to be any talking back—none of that.”
O’Neal also credits his father for teaching him how to respect the law. “One time the police were messing with us, and I disrespected them. Oh, that was the worst thing I could have ever done,” he said. “My father grabbed me by my collar, tugged me back, and said, ‘Don’t you ever disrespect these men. They’re here to protect us. You listen to them. You say, ‘Yes, sir. No, sir.’ And if he’s not right, if he’s doing stuff out of spite, just obey the letter of the law. Then you come and see me, and I’ll handle it.’ So from that day on, I didn’t disrespect the police anymore.”
Read the full interview here.