TNT host and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is not a big fan of staging social justice protests during the playing of the national anthem. O’Neal told a group of reporters that he would try and do something “much bigger.”
O’Neal made his comments after being asked about the NFL’s national anthem protests during a conference call with the media, where he was promoting the upcoming season of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” pregame show.
The former Lakers center noted that he thinks protesting during the national anthem is needlessly provocative and begs a misunderstanding of just what issues the protesters are trying to highlight, USA Today reported.
“When you do it at a moment during the National Anthem — and I know people say it’s not about the flag, and I believe that it’s not about the flag — but when you do it in that moment, there’s a large majority of people that say you are disrespecting the flag and they won’t even listen to your conversation,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal went on to say he would try to do something “much bigger” than just taking a knee during the anthem.
“When I always look at the photos of Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they held a press conference, and they made their case known. I would do it like that. Because when you do it like that, respectfully, people have no choice but to listen,” O’Neal added.
O’Neal’s broadcast partner, Charles Barkley, was also dismissive of the protests.
Barkley said that instead of kneeling and jawing about “social justice,” he would give back to the community and actually do something about the issues. The former Houston Rockets power forward also slammed the media for how it has handled the story, Awful Announcing said.
“I’m just so sick of the media hijacking this conversation because they need something to talk about every day,” Barkley said. “Man, let’s start doing. Stop talking.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.