While it is perfectly within his rights to not stand for the National Anthem, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal doesn’t seem to share the same attitude as a growing number of social justice athletes in the sports world.
This whole hubbub began when San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem because he couldn’t support a country that had so much “racial oppression.”
But O’Neal told Fox & Friends Wednesday that while he supports Kaepernick’s right to do so, not standing for the National Anthem is “something I would never do.”
“I mean, to each his own,” O’Neal said during the interview about his impending Hall of Fame induction. “It’s something I wouldn’t do.”
O’Neal commented that there have always been injustices, but was also critical of the consistency of Kaepernick’s actions.
O’Neal asked, “My question is, what happened last year? How come you didn’t decide to do this last year, or the year before that, or the year before that?”
This will be Kaepernick’s sixth season in the NFL. O’Neal’s comments add fuel to the fire of those that say Kaepernick’s sudden change in attitude has been a result of his current relationship with radio host, Nessa Diab.
Diab is a Muslim who's rumored to have converted Kaepernick to Islam, a claim which Kaepernick denies.
Kaepernick told the media on Wednesday:
This is an open discussion that I have with many people, not just my woman. She is Muslim. Her family is Muslim. I have great respect for them. I have great respect for people’s right to believe what they want to believe. And I don’t think anybody should be prosecuted or judged based on what their beliefs are.
While Kaepernick's statement rings true that people shouldn't be judged based on their beliefs, O'Neal places a premium on decorum.
O’Neal’s family have many ties to the military and law enforcement. His response to the entire situation: “I would never do that […] There are other way to get your point across.”
In an era where class is exceedingly rare, O’Neal puts his class on display.
For video of the interview, watch below: