An increasing din emanating from urban gossip blogs about the alleged extramarital dalliances of Shaquille O’Neal has grown considerably the past two months.
(Inset: O’Neal’s estranged wife Shaunie)
That smoke has since wafted over to RadarOnline.com and TMZ.com, with both outlets now covering accusations from a woman, repped by Gloria Allred, alleging O’Neal harassed her. Also, as recently as today, RadarOnline produced a woman it claimed was an alleged mistress of O’Neal.
So are we starting to get to the point where O’Neal’s rep with the media, fans and sponsors is about to take a monster, Tiger-like hit? Before you answer, keep reading.
On November 5, the urban blog Young, Black & Fabulous alleged that O’Neal was having an affair with Laura Govan, the fiancee of Gilbert Arenas. The website subsequently produced emails and other evidence in an attempt to prove that O’Neal had trysts with Govan.
On November 10, O’Neal’s wife Shaunie separated from her husband of seven years with the intention of filing for divorce. The couple has four kids together.
After the YBF report, O’Neal drastically curtailed his Tweeting. Ironic considering that he was the first major athlete to use Twitter liberally. Arenas has since denied that an affair happened between O’Neal and his fiancee, though O’Neal has made no public statement about the report.
(Tim Floyd seen hovering, envelope in hand)
Then on December 4, Young Black & Fabulous struck again.
This time the blog reported that O’Neal had an alleged affair with a stripper from Atlanta named LaTosha Lee. Lee is also the baby momma of Minnesota Timberwolves player Damien Wilkins. As with the Arenas fiancee story, YBF produced emails and other details of the relationship. (Receipts, plane tickets, etc.)
There have been no denials all around about that alleged affair.
On Jan. 5, RadarOnline.com reported:
Following a five year torrid on-again, off-again affair with NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal, RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively that model Vanessa Lopez thought she was pregnant with the basketball player’s child, which prompted O’Neal to allegedly begin harassing her.
According to a source close to Lopez, O’Neal began harassing Lopez back in September, 2009. He also reportedly enlisted the help of others in his sordid mission.
Today, Lopez and her attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference and detailed Lopez’s alleged relationship with O’Neal.
Allred said, Shaquille O’Neal “wanted to have a child with Ms. Lopez” and “he told her that he wanted to always have her in his life.”
In 2004, she says she met O’Neal again while out at a club and says that he approached her and offered to buy her drinks. When Lopez told him she knew he was married, O’Neal told her he had an open marriage and that his union with wife Shaunie was for public image only. Lopez and O’Neal then began an “intimate” five year affair
Allred went on to reveal that in September 2009 “Ms. Lopez was late with her period and thought that she might be pregnant. She communicated this to Mr. O’Neal who responded by stating that she needed to tell the baby’s father and then went on to state that there was no way that the baby could be his.
“Mr. O’Neal knew that he and Ms. Lopez engaged in unprotected sex and that they had been together numerous times in the preceding months and that she had not been with anyone else during this period of time. She felt that his response was very disrespectful and she was deeply hurt and offended. Though he apologized to her for his reaction she told him that it was over and that she wanted him to leave her alone.”
Allred claims this is when the harassment started.
I know, nightmare fuel.
Allred later reported to the media that a harassment lawsuit on behalf of Lopez will be filed against O’Neal today in Florida.
TMZ countered the RadarOnline coverage of Lopez’s claims with information about her past, which included ‘relationship’ problems with other NBA players, including J.J. Redick and Delonte West and Kenyon Martin.
(O’Neal allegedly cybersexed with mistress Westling - Hello recycle bin!)
Today RadarOnline also reported on yet another alleged O’Neal mistress, this time a nude model named Dominica Westling:
O’Neal was still married to soon-to-be-ex-wife Shaunie when the affair began approximately 18 months ago. A source familiar with the situation told RadarOnline.com exclusively that the couple not only exchanges steamy emails but also has cybersex using a Web camera.
When contacted about the allegation, Westling had no comment.
On top of all that, Shaunie O’Neal is hosting a reality show about NBA player wives on VH1 beginning in March. The show was originally to be co-hosted by the O’Neals, but that changed when Shaunie separated. (You think that show will cast O’Neal in a favorable light?)
Keep in mind that as all of these bombs are going off, O’Neal and his legal team have been silent. (Reminds me of someone we know, who is actually Isleworth neighbors with O’Neal.)
Earlier this year, SI.com reported that O’Neal made $15M in endorsements in 2008. A good portion of that income was derived from his reported associations with Vitamin Water, Chinese sneaker company Li-Ning, Burger King, Comcast, Pepsi and Radio Shack.
So far, none of the companies currently sponsoring O’Neal have made any rumblings about dropping the aging NBA Star. But TMZ and RadarOnline jumping into the story is significant because Tiger Woods put those sites on the map with sports fans - O’Neal’s target demographic.
As the alleged extramarital momentum ramps up against O’Neal, he could he soon face the loss of endorsement deals and irreparable harm to his happy-go-luck reputation with fans. (Though O’Neal certainly doesn’t have the squeaky clean image Woods once had.)
Up until this week, I don’t think reports of O’Neal’s off-court life was a factor with his sponsors. But with the new reports from TMZ and RadarOnline, and a divorce proceeding looming, that could change before I finish this post.