Shaq just entered a select club of flat-earthers.

Image credits: Keith Allison.

He’s one of the best and most respected basketball players of all time and now he’s a major media personality on US television. In a recent podcast, he just stated that the Earth is flat. His proof? When he drives between Florida and California, “it’s flat to me.”

Descending into a hilarious rant, Shaq told co-host John Kincade:

“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 was just starting.

“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.”

He’s not joking, really. You can listen to the segment below. He isn’t even the first NBA star to claim that the Earth is flat — really.

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Kyrie Irving was the first NBA player to reveal his flat-Earth beliefs, saying: “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?” Yeah, who would be so crazy? Not long after that, Denver Nuggets wing Wilson Chandler and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green endorsed Irving’s flat-Earth ideas, saying that photos of Earth from outer space can be easily manipulated.

Why this matters and why it doesn’t

Obviously, people (especially children) look up to Shaq. I don’t think there’s one aspiring basketball player that doesn’t admire him. Also, he has quite a broad audience — you could easily say he influences the opinions of people. In this sense, having someone say such nonsense is clearly damaging and can have dangerous consequences.

But really… it doesn’t matter — and you shouldn’t give two hoots about what he says. I mean, don’t get me wrong — whenever Shaq talks about basketball, you listen. You take a notebook and write down everything he says because the man’s a legend. When he talks about having a career, about being a professional athlete, about the challenges of professional sports you take notes. When he talks about Earth being flat… you smile and wave.

The opinions famous people have are not important just because they’re famous. Famous people say stupid stuff all the time, and unless they base their opinions on facts and figures — just ignore it. This may sound obvious, of course you laugh when Shaq says the Earth is flat — it’s so nonsensical and absurd in this day and age that you just have to laugh. But what if it was something else? What if he said that cigarettes aren’t bad for you? Or that climate change isn’t real? Few people would be laughing then. For climate change, this is exactly the problem. Unqualified people have repeated that climate change isn’t happening for so long that many believe them — despite overwhelming evidence. This is why such pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo, even when it’s hilarious, can be dangerous.