When aliens from a distant galaxy finally arrive here and start poking around, say about 3,000 years from now, one of the first things they’ll find is this:
Shaquille O’Neal stunned fans when he revealed that he thought the world was flat, because when he drove from coast to coast, he didn’t feel himself going up hill, or down hill.
“So, listen, I drive from coast to coast, and this s*** is flat to me,’ he said. “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.”
Even though this is an old quote, and Shaq has repeatedly declared that he was trolling people with it (“I’m joking, you idiots!”), the above excerpt is from today’s London Daily Mail. Now, the DM has never been known as a bastion of credible journalism — they employ Piers Morgan, for Heaven’s sake — but it’s mainstream, and a lot of people read it.
In other words, in today’s grab-and-go, headline-skimming society, one has to be careful about what one jokes about. Shaq: you are now the proud father of a bouncing baby flat-earth meme.
— Charles Oliver (@Quaalude714) July 6, 2017
The Daily Mail post in question centered on Flat Earth Society founder Nathan Thompson, a marketer (of course) from Orange County, CA. He boasts 40,000 members, among them reality star Tila Tequila.
Earlier this year Kyrie Irving appeared on the “Road Trippin’” podcast with Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton, and seemed to make the claim that he believed in the flat-Earth religion. The backlash was immediate and severe, with Irving even earning the nickname World B. Flat.
Since then he’s danced around the notion that he, too, was just kidding — although he’s never flatly (ha!) denied the statements. It’s probably too late for Kyrie anyway. Note the date on this tweet:
Their "stars" in the east..you know Dub fans actually like Kyrie? Cool dude even with flat earth
— Bo Spicoli (@SportsHackCA) July 7, 2017
Draymond Green and Wilson Chandler have also made similar flat-Earth comments, and in Green’s case at least, have then tried to laugh them off. Sorry, no go.
The moral of the story? When you’re joking around, make sure people know it’s a joke. If Will Ferrell says he thinks that the Earth is flat, we all just laugh along. If Shaq or Kyrie makes the same joke, we cringe. That’s because the latter two are not known for their mirth. People will remember the controversial statement, not the retraction.
They are now destined to wander the flat Earth for all of eternity, like Johnny Depp at the end of The Lone Ranger. Sad, really.