Shaquille O'Neal Explains Why He Thinks the Earth Is Flat: 'It's a Theory'

Shaquille O'Neal clarified his comments about the Earth being flat after taking a flight from the United States to Australia.

The NBA legend, 50, was asked during an appearance on The Kyle & Jackie O Show if his former comments about the conspiracy theory were a "joke" or if he did, in fact, believe the notion to be true.

"It's a theory," O'Neal told hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie Henderson. "It's just a theory, they teach us a lot of things. It's just a theory," he repeated.

The former LA Lakers star explained his rationale by using his flight from the U.S. to Australia as an example.

Shaquille O'Neal Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2022
Above, Shaquille O'Neal attends the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront red carpet at Madison Square Garden in NYC on May 18, 2022. The NBA alum recently clarified his 2017 comments on the Earth being flat. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery/Getty Images

"I flew 20 hours today, not once did I go this way," O'Neal said, noting he "didn't tip over" or "go upside down." He added that he's also unsure about whether the planet is spinning.

"You know they say the world is spinning? I've lived on a lake for 30 years and I've never seen the lake move to the left or right," he told listeners.

When Kyle mentioned that it's possible to travel from the U.S. to Australia from both coasts, Shaq responded, "It's still a straight line."

The NBA Hall of Famer first made his opinion known in 2017 while chatting with co-host John Kincade on The Big Podcast With Shaq.

"It's true. The Earth is flat," he said at the time. "Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind—what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, the first thing they teach us is, 'Oh, Columbus discovered America,' but when he got there, there were some fair-skinned people with long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So, what does that tell you? Columbus didn't discover America."

"I'm just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it's flat to me," he continued. "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 then went on to dispute satellite imagery, calling it "drawn and made up."

At the time, a slew of basketball stars including Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, former Denver Nuggets wing Wilson Chandler and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green also agreed the Earth was flat.

The news gained so much traction that NBA commissioner Adam Silver had to address it during a press conference at the 2017 All-Star Game.

"Kyrie and I, you know, went to the same college. He may have taken some different courses than I did," Silver said to a room full of laughter, before adding, "Personally, I believe the world is round."

O'Neal later backtracked on his comments during the NBA on TNT broadcast, claiming he was joking.

Newsweek reached out to O'Neal for comment.

Several scientists previously spoke out on why O'Neal's comments are potentially problematic, whether he's teasing or not.

Sam Bentley, a geology and geophysics professor at the star's alma mater, Louisiana State University, told Bleacher Report in 2017 that the former center should "act responsibly" considering he has such a large platform.

"If Shaquille O'Neal is claiming that the Earth is flat based on his observations driving from California to the East Coast, then he is not using all of the available data," Bentley told the outlet.

Derek Muller, who earned a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Sydney and runs the YouTube channel "Veritasium," agreed.

"It leads their fanbases to consider ridiculous ideas to be true," Muller noted. "Obviously, these people have god-like reputations among some of their fans. They're clearly prominent, and even if you don't fully believe them, it definitely raises the visibility of the claims."

He added that it "does damage in the long term" because "you have a group of people who don't know what to believe."

"When you don't have those established consensuses, the world makes bad decisions."

At the time of publication, O'Neal boasts 26.4 million followers on Instagram and 15.8 million followers on Twitter.