Unfortunately, Shaquille O'Neal isn't actually a flat-Earther: 'I'm joking, you idiots'

They don't call Shaquille O'Neal the Big Aristotle for nothing, it turns out. (AP)
They don’t call Shaquille O’Neal the Big Aristotle for nothing, it turns out. (AP)

Last we left you with the NBA’s flat-Earth society, we pondered whether Shaquille O’Neal’s theory was as earnest as Kyrie Irving’s appears to be, or if the Pro Basketball Hall of Famer was just trolling us all.

And it appears Shaq was “joking, you idiots.”

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On Jordan Harbinger’s “The Art of Charm” podcast, O’Neal clarified his astronomical beliefs:

Harbinger: “What’s going on with the flat Earth thing? Are you just messing with everybody with that?”

O’Neal: “No, the Earth is flat. Would you like to hear my theory?”

Harbinger: “Yeah, tell me about it.”

O’Neal: “The first part of the theory is, I’m joking, you idiots. That’s the first part of the theory. The second part is, I said jokingly that when I’m in my bus and I drive from Florida to California, which I do every summer, it seems to be flat. When I’m in my plane, and we’re getting ready to land, and I open up the window, and I’m looking at all the land that we’re flying over, it seems to be flat.”

He did say all that, and more, questioning how China could be on the opposite side of the globe:

That, as a belief, is wild. That, as a joke, is quite elaborate and a bit confusing. It was hard to imagine a guy with a doctorate degree in education actually thought the Earth was flat. It would be hilarious if he actually believed that theory. That he just said a bunch of stuff he doesn’t really believe, well, Shaq isn’t too concerned about whether you find it funny. More from Shaq in his interview with Harbinger:

“This world we live in, people take things too seriously, but I’m going to give the people answers to my test,” he said. “Knowing that I’m a funny guy, if something seems controversial or boom, boom, boom, you’ve got to have my funny points on, right? So now, once you have my funny points on, that should eradicate and get rid of all your negative thoughts, right? That’s what you should do when you hear a Shaquille O’Neal statement, OK? You should know that he has funny points right over here, and what did he say? Boom, boom, boom, add the funny points. You either laugh or you don’t laugh, but don’t take me seriously. When I want you to take me seriously, you will know by the tone of my voice that I’m being serious.”

I’ve got to admit. I’m still a little confused. I didn’t pick up that tone in the podcast. Please, continue:

“So, we live in a world today — and Denzel Washington said it best — there’s too much information right now,” added O’Neal. “There’s too much going on, so if somebody says something and they title it and they send it out, by the time it gets to another guy and another guy, it’s all messed up, so people actually really believed I was serious when I said that. We actually had people call into the office.”

I’m not sure how Shaq saying on his own podcast, “The Earth is flat,” and repeatedly telling his bewildered and inquiring cohost, “Yes it is” — and then being quoted as such — “messed up” the point he was trying to get across, but OK. For reference sake, this is what Denzel said about disinformation:

And that’s pretty great.

Maybe Shaq’s point was if we don’t listen to his podcast, we’re uninformed, and if we do listen, we’re misinformed? Or maybe he was hoping the media would run with his flat-Earth theory, which, guilty as charged. Thankfully, I find anything to do with the flat-Earth society fairly hilarious, real or imaginary. If Shaq’s intention was to trick folks into thinking he was a flat-Earther, I’m not sure intentionally manufacturing fake news really does much other than lend more credence to the idea of fake news.

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I never took Shaq to be one for Andy Kaufman-esque comedy stylings, but kudos to him, I guess. As for conspiracy theorists who might now believe Shaq wasn’t actually joking, here’s how he finished:

“No, I don’t think that,” O’Neal told Harbinger of a flat Earth. “It was a joke, OK? So know that when Shaquille O’Neal says something, 80 percent of the time I’m being humorous, and it is a joke. And 20 percent of the time, I’m being serious, but when I’m being serious, you’ll know. You want to see me, seriously? See me and Charles Barkley going back and forth on TNT. That’s when I’m mad and when I’m serious. Other than that, you’re not going to get that out of me, so I was just joking people. The Earth is not round, it’s flat. I mean, the Earth is not flat, it’s round.”

Well, that clears it up. Or not. I’ll just go ahead and assume anything Shaq says from here on out is a joke. Denzel sure was right when he said, “Anything you practice, you’ll get good at, including B.S.”

What this all means for Kyrie Irving, Wilson Chandler and Draymond Green — all of whom have espoused their own flat-Earth theories in recent weeks — we cannot be sure. Until the next chapter.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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