Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal has reportedly urged the members of the New Orleans Saints team to stay unified. Since Saints quarterback Drew Brees made comments on Colin Kaepernick’s protest in 2016, there have been many criticizing him.
The comments led to a controversy that could endanger the unity in the Saints dressing room. ESPN reported that it was Shaquille O’Neal who urged the Saints to remain united. The former Lakers player was the guest speaker at a Saints meeting last Thursday.
“They’re going to try to divide you, just like they divided us with the Lakers! Me and Kobe [Bryant], we had a great thing going, but the media divided our team,” O’Neal said during the virtual team meeting as per ESPN. “We could have won five more championships! Stay strong. Don’t let the media divide you! Don’t let social media divide you!”
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had led the Lakers in one of their best periods in the NBA. The Lakers brought in O’Neal in 1996, when they also obtained rookie Bryant. The two went on to build one of the best partnerships in the league. Together they led the Lakers to a three-peat winning the 2000, 2001, and the 2002 titles. During that time, there were many reports suggesting their deteriorating off-court relationship. It eventually led to O’Neal moving away from the Lakers in 2004.
They, however, later patched up, and a very emotional O’Neal described Bryant as his brother when he died earlier this year. Shaq, naturally, did not want the Saints team to break apart due to Brees’ comments off the court or due to the media’s portrayal of the comments.
Shaquille O’Neal was among those to voice his support to Drew Brees
Not long after his controversial comments, Brees took to Instagram to apologize. He posted a photo with a long caption, a part of which read: “In speaking with some of you, it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused. In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country.”
In a recent appearance on NBA on TNT, Shaq explained Brees’ apology saying he made a mistake.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 5, 2020