NBA great Shaquille O’Neal stands down from discussion around Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka

Home » NBA great Shaquille O’Neal stands down from discussion around Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka
NBA great Shaquille O’Neal stands down from discussion around Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka

Shaquille O’Neal is “going to step down” from conversations regarding the relationship scandal involving Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, citing his own history.

Speaking recently on his “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” the 50-year-old NBA legend touched upon the controversy that rocked the league last week and saw the Celtics suspend Udoka for the 2022-23 season after violating the franchise’s code of conduct over an alleged romance with a female member of the team’s staff, the NY Post reports.

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“I’m going to step down from this conversation,” O’Neal said.

“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.”

Udoka, who helped lead the Celtics to an NBA Finals berth last season, is said to have engaged in an “improper and consensual relationship” with a female staffer.

The 45-year-old head coach has been in a relationship with actress Nia Long since 2010 with whom he shares a young son.

O’Neal added on his show that he’s known Long, 51, “for a long time”.

Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.Source: AFP

“I just wish that certain parties weren’t involved,” O’Neal said. “I’ve known Nia Long for a long time and I like her. … They’re going through a lot of family stuff. I’m never the guy that’s gonna get up here because of my platform and fake it.”

In the wake of Udoka’s suspension, Long released a statement on Friday in which she expressed gratitude for the “outpouring of love and support.”

“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight.

“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.”

O’Neal himself has been candid about past missteps, notably the demise of his marriage to Shaunie O’Neal.

Shaquille O’Neal and ex-wife Shaunie Nelson during Shaquille O’Neal’s Pre-Season Party to Benefit the Lakers Youth Foundation.Source: Getty Images

During an April appearance on “The Pivot Podcast,” O’Neal said he “wasn’t protecting her and protecting those vows.”

“Sometimes when you live that double life, you get caught up. I’m not going to say it was her. It was all me,” he said.

O’Neal and Shaunie wed in 2002 and separated five years later. Although they briefly reconciled, Shaunie filed for divorce in 2009 with the split being finalised in 2011.

Ukoda stays on

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Udoka was facing disciplinary action, possibly for the entire upcoming season. He is not expected to resign, according to TNT’s Chris Haynes.

In Udoka’s first season as head coach, the Celtics reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 before falling in six games to the Warriors.

Head Coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics talks with Marcus Smart #36 against the Miami Heat during the third quarter in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals.Source: Getty Images

They finished the regular season with a 28-7 mark over their final 35 games before eliminating the Nets, Bucks and Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Udoka, who also spent nine seasons as an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, replaced Brad Stevens as Boston’s head coach after the latter was promoted to president of basketball operations last year.

With training camp slated to open next week, Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla was named as the interim head coach in Udoka’s absence.

Will Hardy, Udoka’s lead assistant last season, was named head coach of the Jazz in June.

This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

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