President Joe Biden has attempted, with limited success, to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for many Americans, and in the absence of any federal mandate, has convinced or intimidated many private corporations to impose such mandates on his behalf.
That doesn’t sit well at all with former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, however, as he recently expressed his opposition to anybody being “forced” to receive a vaccine they don’t want, Fox News reported.
The surprising remarks from O’Neal, which appear to differ from his stance in support of mandatory vaccinations just a few months ago, came during a discussion Thursday on his podcast with one of his co-hosts, “Entertainment Tonight” personality Nischelle Turner.
Nobody should be “forced” to get vaccinated
“Look, I encourage everybody to be safe and take care of your family, I do,” O’Neal said in support of Americans getting vaccinated to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus, according to The Hill.
“But there’s still some people that don’t want to take it, and you shouldn’t have to be forced to take something you don’t want,” he added.
Turner initially pushed back by claiming that nobody was being forced to get vaccinated before immediately correcting herself and admitted that “there are some” — such as her employer, CBS/Viacom — that had imposed vaccine mandates on all employees.
“That’s forced,” O’Neal repeated several times as Turner tried to disagree, prompting the basketball star to finally state unequivocally, “It is forced because if the man don’t take it, the man gonna get fired.”
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— Gina Carano 🕯 (@ginacarano) February 4, 2022
The conversation continued with a hypothetical situation involving an unvaccinated co-worker at Turner’s other job, and while O’Neal agreed with Turner’s assertion that private corporations could set their own “rules,” he nonetheless added, “But I do feel sympathetic towards people who have to make that kind of decision.”
O’Neal sang a different tune previously
SI.com reported that O’Neal’s recently expressed opposition to mandatory vaccination stands in stark contrast to the position he had previously staked out last year in September and reiterated in January in support of vaccines being made mandatory.
The prior remarks from the superstar-turned-commentator had been made about current NBA star Kyrie Irving, who has stubbornly refused to get vaccinated and has only been permitted to play in a handful of road games this season since New York City, where his Brooklyn Nets team plays, has made vaccines mandatory to enter any indoor venue, including the team’s basketball arena.
On both of those previous occasions in September and January, O’Neal had sharply criticized Irving and suggested that he should be forced to get vaccinated if only to help support his teammates.