Q: Did Shaquille O’Neal say Donald Trump is the “best president … of all times ever” and “should be given the Medal of Freedom”?
A: No. There is no record of the former basketball superstar making those comments.
Be wary of stories with the false — and grammatically incorrect — headline, “SHAQUILLE O’NEAL SAYS: ‘TRUMP IS POSSIBLY THE BEST PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF ALL TIMES EVER, HE IS NOT AFRAID TO… .’”
One of those stories was published Sept. 10 on Nebraska Daily, an unreliable website that should not be confused with the Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The story goes on to falsely claim that O’Neal said Trump has “been remarkable contrasted with different presidents I’ve served under.” That makes no sense considering O’Neal is a basketball analyst, not a federal employee.
In fact, it was Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is mentioned in the story, who made a similar statement about Trump at the end of November.
When Hatch was asked about a series of anti-Muslim videos that Trump had retweeted, the longtime senator said: “I’m not aware of it. I don’t pay much attention to his tweets. I’ll say this for ya: He’s been one of the best presidents I’ve served under. And the reasoning is, he’s not afraid to make decisions. He’s not afraid to take on the big mouths around here.”
The story also claims that O’Neal said Trump “should be given the Medal of Freedom for talking his mind in such a solid, reasonable, and coordinate way.” That’s false, too. A similar quote was misattributed to actor Kevin Bacon, as we wrote last year.
It was singer Ted Nugent who wrote almost that exact line about Trump in 2015. Nugent declared: “Donald Trump should be given the Medal of Freedom for speaking his mind in such a bold, honest and straight-forward manner.”
There’s also no record of O’Neal saying “the reality is that people need to start fighting for this country together with him instead of criticizing and wasting their time on stupid things.” That same statement also was wrongly attributed to Bacon last year, according to entertainment myth-busting website Gossip Cop.
The basketball legend may not have called Trump the “best president … of all times ever,” but he has said complimentary things about him as a person.
O’Neal, who was a guest at Trump’s 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss, referred to Trump as “a friend of mine” when answering reporters’ questions in 2015. In his response, O’Neal said Trump is a “straight-up guy” who sometimes “just says it wrong.”
And after Trump’s 2016 election victory, O’Neal said: “Now that he’s president-elect, you just hope that he can make the world a better place. He won fair and square. We have to give him a chance. There’s no need talking about recounts and this and that.”
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network.
“SHAQUILLE O’NEAL SAYS: ‘TRUMP IS POSSIBLY THE BEST PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF ALL TIMES EVER, HE IS NOT AFRAID TO… .'” Nebraskadaily.sie. 10 Sep 2018.
“Shaquille O’Neal Says: ‘Trump is Possibly the Best President of the President Of All Times Ever, He Is Not Afraid To … .'” Proconservativenews.com. 10 Dec 2017.
“SHAQUILLE O’NEAL SAYS: ‘TRUMP IS POSSIBLY THE BEST PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF ALL TIMES EVER, HE IS NOT AFRAID TO… .'” Tulsapost.club. 24 Aug 2018.
Tanner, Courtney. “Sen. Orrin Hatch calls Donald Trump ‘one of the best’ presidents he’s seen in office.” Salt Lake Tribune. 30 Nov 2017.
Nugent, Ted. “Give Trump the Medal of Freedom.” Wnd.com. 8 Jul 2015.
Spencer, Saranac. “Kevin Bacon Isn’t a Trump Supporter.” FactCheck.org. 8 Dec 2017.
Shuster, Andrew. “Kevin Bacon Did NOT Say “We Are Blessed To Have Donald Trump As President,” Despite Report.” Gossipcop.com. 4 Dec 2017.
Kurtz, Judy. “Shaq: Time to give Trump a chance.” The Hill. 30 Nov 2016.
Christopher, Jared. “Shaq says Donald Trump is his friend.” YouTube video. 21 Oct 2015.