Come on. Shaq has to be pulling our leg with this flat-earth stuff

View Caption Hide Caption
Photo: Jennifer Brett

Come on, Shaq.

NBA great turned analyst, actor, celebrity pitchman and civic leader Shaquille O’Neal is trending upon word he voiced support for the notion that the earth is flat. He can’t be serious.

MORE: Shaq is a deputy sheriff

Shaq spreads holiday cheer

Shaq surprises cops, neighborhood kids

Shaq’s St. Patrick’s Day message

As if the changing seasons and the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west don’t provide some pretty strong hints, there’s, what, centuries of scientific data? Not to mention actual photos of the earth from space.

Don’t take my word (or Galileo’s or Copernicus’ or Aristotle’s..) word for it. Check out the work of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who posted a slew of lovely photos during his year in space:

Shaq left LSU to play ball professionally, but not only returned to finish his undergrad degree but also earned an MBA and doctoral. He appeared at SXSW in 2014 to give a talk on wearable technology.

Not every move has been genius. He appeared in the Atlanta-filmed bomb “Blended,” but it’s not his fault the movie was so awful. Blame Adam Sandler.

So this flat-earth business emerged from a recent podcast.

“The Earth is flat,” Shaq declared. “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.”

Fair point. America was here before the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria got here. That doesn’t make the earth flat. I think Shaq’s pulling our leg. Over the years I’ve covered his community appearances in Atlanta, including his annual Christmas toys giveaway. At the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta- Bellwood Unit on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in Atlanta in December, he repeatedly urged the youths to stay in school and study hard.

“Listen to your counselors, listen to your teachers, listen to your parents,” he said.” Trust me, that stuff works.”

So what’s with comments like this?

“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.”

Let me just say: his latest podcast episode starts with this lengthy segment of his co-host singing and humming retro television show tunes and segues into clips of people sounding silly on the radio. Later they play a ridiculous word-association game. It’s .. um.. pure audio magic, but maybe not the sort of thing that would cause a lot of attention.

But here we are, all talking about it. Kind of a brilliant move, Shaq.