NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal refused to comment NBA coach Ime Udoka’s cheating scandal, saying it would be ‘blasphemous’ for him to have an opinion due to his previous infidelities.
Udoka was suspended by the Celtics for the entire 2021-22 season for a violation of team policies for having a consensual intimate relationship with a female staffer, and faces the prospect of never coaching the team again.
But O’Neal, who has admitted to cheating on ex-wife Shaunie O’Neal, made it clear that he ‘s in not the best position to speak or lecture Udoka for his actions.
‘I’m going to step down from this conversation,’ O’Neal said on ‘The Big Podcast with Shaq’ according to NESN.
‘I was a serial cheater. It would be crazy and blasphemous for me to get up here and say, ‘Boom, boom, bam.’ I can’t do that. I know these guys personally. I know they’re going through a lot because I went through a lot.’
O’Neal married his ex-wife Shaunie in 2002 before she filed for divorce in 2009.
He later admitted to his past infidelities in his memoir Shaq Uncut: My Story which was released in 2011.
‘At one time my ex-wife Shaunie and I were happy, but I admit it — I was a guy. I was a guy with too many options,’ he wrote.
‘Choosing to be with some of those women, well, that’s on me. In my mind, I never did it disrespectfully, but obviously, I shouldn’t have done it all.’
The pair have co-parented their four children since divorcing, an arrangement that Shaunie told Tamron Hall was ‘great’ last year.
‘You know as well as I do relationships are about maintaining … It wasn’t the big stuff, it was the small stuff, and that’s my fault,’ O’Neal wrote in his memoir.
‘I had things to do. I was trying to win, trying to make some money. I admit I wasn’t the best partner. I just didn’t know how. I’m learning now.’
Udoka has been engaged to hollywood actress Nia Long since 2010 and the pair have a son together.
Long, who O’Neal said he’s known for a ‘long time’ on his podcast, released a statement last week after news of Udoka’s suspension and reported affair broke.
‘The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,’ Long emailed the Boston Globe.
‘I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.’
For his part, Udoka also shared a statement with ESPN.
‘I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,’ he said.
‘I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.’
According to The Athletic, some members of the Celtics learned about Udoka’s relationship in July, and team leaders were initially led to believe the relationship was consensual.
However, sources told the publication that the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments towards her, which led he team to launch internal interviews.