At the peak of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem as a stance against racism and police brutality of African-Americans in the U.S., Shaquille O'Neal was one of the athletes who spoke out against the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback's platform for delivering his message.
Well, two months after criticizing Kaepernick, The Diesel isn't letting up on the woke QB.
In an interview with Esquire, which was posted Thursday — the same day as Kaepernick's 29th birthday — the NBA Hall of Famer acknowledged the NFL player's right to exercise his free speech, but had some rather choice words for his continued silent protest and people following it.
"Well Carmelo [Anthony] came out today and said he'd rather do things in the community. It's more effective. I agree," O'Neal began saying. "I don't know [Kaepernick]. To each his own. You've got the right to voice your opinion. But my advice is to his followers: Don't just do it when it's convenient. And don't do it to get your followers up. If you're going to do it, do it like the ones before you have done it from day one."
The four-time NBA champion also scoffed at comparisons between Kaepernick and the late Muhammad Ali.
"I saw somebody compared him to Muhammad Ali, which is ludicrous. Muhammad Ali was fighting for a bigger cause since he was Cassius Clay," he continued. "Every day. So I've never seen Kaepernick do anything in the community — I don't really know him, but to each his own. Everybody has their voice, especially now with social media. A lot of people have these tweets, and they just want to say something when it's convenient. But I don't know if he said anything with Eric Garner, and all those others."
Obviously, this interview was conducted last month before Kaepernick launched his Black Panther Party-inspired "I Know My Rights Camp" for Bay Area youth in Oakland this past weekend, arming them with the tools and knowledge to be woke and successful.
And to O'Neal's point about Garner, although Kaepernick wasn't as outspoken as NBA players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, who donned "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts in tribute of Garner two years ago, he did talk candidly about the murder of Terrence Sterling, who was yet another unarmed Black man shot and killed by police.
"It's become habitual," Kaepernick told reporters this past September of incidents similar to the Sterling situation. "It's an issue and it needs to be addressed because it continues to happen and every time, it's administrative leave [as a punishment for the police officers involved]. That's not right. That's an issue that needs to be addressed and policies need to be changed to address that."
Speaking more to police brutality incidents, Shaq also told Esquire that he's "not worried" when stopped by cops — and that it doesn't have anything to do with him being a beloved NBA legend.
"When I get stopped by the cops, I'm not worried. And it has nothing to do with being Shaq. You know why? I show respect. 'Yes, sir. No, sir,'" O'Neal said. "That's how I was taught. I was raised by a drill sergeant, and that's who I am. Doesn't matter if it's a black guy, white guy, whatever. I'm not going to make it uncomfortable for you, because I don't want it uncomfortable for me. There's not going to be any talking back — none of that."
What do you think about Shaq's thoughts on Kaepernick and his silent protest?
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(Photos from Left: Mike Coppola/Getty Images, Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)