Now Shaq is doing it.
Is it possible that current and former members of the NBA have mutually agreed to troll the planet — which is provably spherical in shape — with preposterous flat-Earth theories? The only other explanation is that they believe it, and just ... no. No.
Retired NBA star and current media personality Shaquille O'Neal is the latest pro basketball player to assert that our definitely globe-shaped planet is, in fact, a flat surface. His proof: when he drives between Florida and California, "it's flat to me."
Shaq's descent into laughable pseudoscience came out of a recent chat on his podcast. The talk turned to NBA star Kyrie Irving, another flat-Earther who recently drew headlines for speaking his truth to Big Science.
After a brief "yes it is/not it's not" back-and-forth with podcast co-host John Kincade, Shaq laid out his thinking.
"So, listen. I drive from coast to coast and this sh*t is flat to me. I'm just saying," he explained — at which point, Kincade interjected: "That is the dumbest thing you have ever said." Laughter followed, but Shaq wasn't finished.
"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 really happened. I'm not even going to unpack the "360-degree angle" thing, as I'm still stuck on the physics of how that would work. Would he just bounce up and down — like an Earth-shaped basketball! — while spinning in circles?
Amazingly, Shaq is the fourth basketball-famous living human to espouse flat-Earth beliefs in recent weeks. After Irving asserted that our absolutely, positively round planet is just a stone pancake floating in space, fellow NBA stars Wilson Chandler and Draymond Green stepped up to voice their agreement.
The claims have created such an atmosphere of fascinated consternation that league commissioner Adam Silver brought them up publicly in February, in his annual "state of the NBA" address.
Adam Silver believes the Earth is round + thinks Kyrie was making some sort of statement on fake news with this flat-Earth theory. pic.twitter.com/YE8l1ePulS
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) February 19, 2017
Silver pointed out at the time that Irving's comments were intentionally provocative, his way of engaging with the "fake news debate that's going on in our society right now." Silver also noted — with a faint grin on his face — that he believes the world is round.
Irving addressed the "flat-Earth" stuff himself more recently when he appeared again on "Road Trippin' with RJ & Channing." It's the same podcast where he first let loose with his controversial take on established science.
There is a fundamental point to all of this, Irving said: "It's OK to have your own thoughts and be able to function and be able to formulate your own thoughts and opinions and still be able to convey them to other people."
While that may be true, "the Earth is actually flat" is a hell of a hill to die on. Whether he realizes it or not, Irving is implying that equal credence should be given to all perspectives, even those that are objectively, provably wrong. That kind of thinking is why people are still talking in serious terms about the validity of "alternative facts."
As for Shaq and his own flat-Earth beliefs, he's probably now killed any shot he might have had at joining the cast of Space Jam 2.