Shaquille O’Neal believes the NBA superstars should not miss their chance to play in the Rio Olympics 2016.
Several big-name stars like Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, John Wall, and LaMarcus Aldridge have already dropped out of Rio 2016 due to injuries.
Some reports indicated some NBA stars are afraid of contracting Zika virus while in Brazil. Also, the crime rate in Brazil is high, which is also a factor to a lot of people.
Meanwhile, O’Neal doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about.
In a sit-down interview with Business Insider before speaking at American Express’ “Teamed Up” event in New York City, O’Neal said he would attend the Olympics if he were invited as a player.
While O’Neal didn’t address the concerns over Zika directly, he did say that he doesn’t think players need to worry for their safety in Rio.
“Sports and music are the only two things that settle people down, for some reason,” said O’Neal. “I’ve been in some hostile countries, and I haven’t had a problem at all. By myself. Uzbekistan, Russia, I’m going to Cuba, been to China, been to Korea, been to a lot of places by myself.”
“And because of sports… You know, there’s rules when it comes to the Olympics, there’s unwritten rules, and I’m sure that the Brazilians will follow that because they know if they don’t, there will be repercussions. So, we haven’t had any problems. I think the last time we had a problem that I remember was, when, Berlin? And that’s the last time. I don’t think these guys will have any problems.”
Regardless, O’Neal believes that the Olympics are too big of an opportunity to pass up on for athletes who are currently on the fence.
O’Neal himself played for the Dream Team 2 that won the gold at the 1994 World Basketball Championships in Toronto and he also won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
A dominant force in the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal was selected to 15 all-star Games, won four NBA titles (three with Los Angeles Lakers, one with Miami Heat).
He is considered to be among the best centers ever to play in the NBA. O’Neal played in 1207 NBA games (1197 started), averaging 23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg in 34.7 minutes of action.
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