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I’m sorry to break it to you, but Shaquille O’Neal is apparently a flat-Earther, too. Actually, I’m not sorry at all. I love this NBA narrative so, so much, and I’d like to thank Shaq for breathing more life into it.
Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving was the first NBA player to reveal his flat-Earth beliefs, summarized as such: “Can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these ‘planets’ and stuff like this?”
Soon afterwards, Denver Nuggets wing Wilson Chandler and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green endorsed Irving’s flat-Earth theory, with the latter explaining away NASA’s photos of the planet from space by suggesting everyone can manipulate doctored photos of the globe on their phones.
The NBA storyline became so outrageous commissioner Adam Silver had to address it in his annual state-of-the-league address at the All-Star Game, clarifying, “I believe the world is round,” and suggesting Irving was making some broader social commentary about fake news in this country.
Which, no he wasn’t. Irving doubled down on his flat-Earth theory this past week, before detailing his lucid dreaming skills and informing us how an ex-teammate came to him in a dream to say goodbye.
These are all very real things that NBA players have said.
This is one wild theme to the 2016-17 NBA season, and Shaq just made it wilder when asked about Irving’s flat-Earth theory on his podcast. This was his response, through a series of interruptions:
“It’s true. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind — what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but when he got there, there were some fair-skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America. So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this s*** is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle, and all that stuff about gravity, have you looked outside Atlanta lately and seen all these buildings? You mean to tell me that China is under us? China is under us? It’s not. The world is flat.”
This man has a doctorate degree in education from Barry University in Miami, Fla. Seriously.
I’m not sure which detail I enjoyed better — Shaq thinking the world is flat because he drives coast to coast or Shaq thinking he’d be driving “up and down at a 360-degree angle” if the Earth was spherical.
Unfortunately, you can’t drive from here to Asia, but there are things called boats and airplanes, and if you head west from California, you’ll arrive in China. And if you head west from there, you’ll eventually end up in California again. Because we live on a globe. Shaq should know full well. He’s been to China.
And, technically, a 360-degree angle is just a circle. I don’t know why Shaq thinks you would be driving up and down on a circle, but it is possible to drive comfortably on a spherical object when that object’s circumference is 24,901 miles. Think of an ant walking around a basketball, if you will. It might think it’s moving in a straight line, but eventually it will navigate the orb and arrive in the same place.
Also, there are things called mountains, and you drive over them on your way to California. At various angles. But never at a 360-degree angle, because your car would just be careening in circles into a ravine. But we shouldn’t have to explain mountains to you, just how we shouldn’t have to tell you the Earth is not flat. And that’s what’s so great about this new NBA narrative. It raises so many questions, from where players think the sun goes at night to why they believe they travel to different time zones.
Of course, there remains the possibility that Shaq is just trolling us all. In which case, kudos to him for coming up with some fantastically elaborate fiction about how China cannot be under us, because I can’t get enough of NBA players and their flat-Earth theories — real or imaginary. Keep ’em coming.
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