Shaquille O’Neal has done a lot of crazy antics off the court. His most outrageous one was, in his words, being a “serial cheater” — an admission he made in light of the Ime Udoka scandal. Not far behind this was when he boasted of having sexual affairs with tennis legend Venus Williams, supermodel Cindy Crawford, and R&B star Aaliyah.
I’m a comedian
In an appearance on Los Angeles’ Power 106-FM in the middle of the 2001 NBA Playoffs, O’Neal said that he had slept with Williams, Crawford, and Aaliyah. News quickly reached the girls and all of them denied O’Neal’s claims. Williams issued a statement, pointing out that she doesn’t even know Shaq.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny that I have ever had a sexual relationship with Shaquille O’Neal,” Williams’ statement began. “I don’t even know him. I’ve only met Shaquille once a few years ago, when attending an L.A. Lakers game. If Shaquille made the statement as a joke, it was in very bad taste, and I am definitely offended. I think that he should use better judgment in the future, particularly where one’s reputation is concerned,” per ESPN.
It would be interesting to find out what was Shaq thinking when he uttered those statements. Whatever the case was, Shaq quickly apologized for his lies. He claimed that he was kidding around. Those in the radio studio were not on the same page with the Big Diesel.
“Those who know me know I’m a comedian. The guys who were with me in the studio knew that I was laughing, but I guess they didn’t take it as a joke, and I apologize,” O’Neal said.
“I am sorry, Venus. I am sorry, Cindy Crawford. I am sorry, Aaliyah. Those that know me, my good friends, know I’m a comedian, and if I hurt your feelings, I apologize,” he added.
Shaq dodged a major bullet. Imagine if he uttered the joke today where almost anything you say could cause a significant backlash. Perhaps that little joke would spark a lengthy discourse on proper comedian decorum vis-a-vis women’s rights. Who knows?
The Udoka situation
While Shaq’s lie and apology occurred in 2001, it sounds eerily fresh amid the Ime Udoka situation. News about the scandal has subsided slightly, mainly because it involves the personal lives of those involved. And as Matt Barnes said, the situation is “uglier than any of us thought.”
And so from further parsing or squeezing out the details of the scandal, it has pivoted to the classic “what you could learn from it” angle. Shaq was the first one to chip into the bucket by admitting that he was the best at having extramarital affairs — a deed he deeply regrets.
We could castigate Shaq for his extramarital affairs. But we could also feel a tinge of pity for him. Yes, it was his choice, but you could sense the guilt in his eyes when he recalled his sinful past. At this point in his life, he just wants to make everything right for others - primarily his kids. Something we can all relate to in a way.