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Shaq won’t talk about Ime Udoka scandal, citing own ‘serial cheater’ history

The Celtics coach was suspended for the upcoming season over violating the team code of conduct

Former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal speaks during an interview on CNBC March 22, 2019.
Former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal speaks during an interview on CNBC March 22, 2019. Photo by BRENDAN MCDERMID /REUTERS

Shaquille O’Neal has a history of being a “serial cheater,” which is why he won’t talk about the scandal surrounding Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

During a recent episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq, the NBA legend discussed Udoka, who was suspended for the upcoming season over violating the Celtics’ code of conduct by having an alleged affair with a woman staffer.

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O’Neal said he’s “going to step down” from the conversation because he “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 said, as reported by NESN.

Udoka reportedly violated “multiple” team policies and has been suspended for a year. Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as interim coach.

“I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision,” Udoka said in a statement to ESPN. “Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”

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Udoka has been in a relationship since 2010 with actress Nia Long and they have a son.

On his podcast, O’Neal noted he’s known the 51-year-old Long “for a long time” and that “I like her.”

“I just wish that certain parties weren’t involved,” he said. “… 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.”

  1. Apr 25, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the second quarter of game four of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at Barclays Center.

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  3. Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka reacts during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Boston.

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O’Neal has talked openly about his past cheating ways and how it led to the end of his marriage to Shaunie O’Neal. The couple married in 2002 but separated five years later. Shaunie filed for divorce in 2009 and it finalized in 2011.

He told The Pivot Podcast in April that sometimes “when you live that double life, you get caught up. I’m not going to say it was her. It was all me.”