Following the broadcast of Evelyn Lozada and Tami Roman‘s physical altercation on the Basketball Wives season finale, a few were quick to point fingers at Shaunie O’Neal for supposedly causing the fight by urging Evelyn to tell Tami about her affair with Kenny Anderson. Below, Shaunie responds to that criticism. She also discusses the tough spot Evelyn put her in by withholding the information until that point (Shaunie says even she knew nothing about it before) and the mixed feelings she has about the season ending on such a violent note.
What are your thoughts on urging Evelyn to tell Tami about her affair with Kenny? That’s what precipitated their physical altercation. Do you feel like you started that fight?
I couldn’t start something I didn’t know. I didn’t know that about Evelyn. I didn’t know her in the days of Boston with Antoine playing. I didn’t meet Evelyn until he was traded to Miami. Before we brought Tami on the show, I talked to Evelyn and Jen, just to run it past them and to see if they knew her. It was kind of like, “I’ve heard of her,” no big deal. Since that was off camera and since we’re friends, that’s what I went off of. We taped the whole season and no one said anything to me about Kenny. When Evelyn finally told me [on this week's episode], it was so uncomfortable for me. I had a similar situation happen to me, and Tami just had spilled her guts about how she felt about all of us. She really seemed to have this bond with Evelyn. I felt awful, an immediate disgusting feeling. I figured that Tami probably thought we were the devil. She probably thought that because I’m friends with Evelyn and Jen, we had sat up there and held this secret from her. That’s not anything any woman wants to hear. I told Evelyn, “This should not have been held till now.”
There were a lot of mixed, confusing emotions going on at the table. I almost wished that Evelyn hadn’t told me, but since she did and since Tami had just cried about how much she loved us, it didn’t feel right to walk away from the situation carrying that secret, like, “I know something that probably will hurt your feelings, but let’s all leave this table and pretend like everything’s OK.” I wish it weren’t at Jen’s birthday dinner, but I don’t know how we could have walked away with a clear conscience.
Did I hold a gun to Evelyn’s head and say, “You gotta go”? No. Did I think telling Tami was what she should have done? Yes. The only reason I went with her was to support both of them. I felt both sides. I felt Evelyn’s side of, “When is the right time to say that?” and I felt Tami’s side of hearing that. I never what have thought it would have turned into what it turned into. I think once Tami’s anger kicked in, Evelyn’s anger kicked in. And that’s when it went wrong. Had it been me, I would have let Tami be pissed off. She had a reason to get pissed off. I think Evelyn getting pissed off back at her is what sparked the whole thing. When Tami said, “It’s taking everything in me to keep from punching you in your face,” that’s when you knew she wasn’t planning on doing anything. She was just so hurt. The reaction should have been, “I understand, you should want to punch me in the face,” but Evelyn being Evelyn, it was instead, “F you!” It turned from what it was about to being about ego and pride and, “You’re not gonna talk to me like that.” I regret it happened that way at that moment. I never want my friends to fight. I would never want to cause anything like that. It was not my intention at all.
Tami aside for a second, were you upset with Evelyn that she’d waited to tell you about Kenny?
Yeah. I wasn’t pissed off, but it put everyone in a tough position. I know how it looks from the outside. I know how it looks for Evelyn’s reputation. The bottom line is I never would have imagined that it would come to a physical altercation. If I could redo the evening, I would rather not have heard it. People were saying that I started it. I didn’t think I started it. It wasn’t until people were saying that on Twitter that I thought about it: “Really? I started it? How?” I never brought that subject up. I told Evelyn she should tell Tami and I still think she should have. The emotional part of who got angry and how is so not my fault. I expected Tami to be mad, but I didn’t expect Evelyn to get mad at Tami for being mad at her. It was so stupid. I think Tami walked away pissed off at all of us. I think to this day, she thinks we all knew this secret and kept it from her. I’ve told Tami that I had no idea. I know she’s said, “I don’t trust any of these bitches.” I can only tell the truth; whether you believe me is on you.
Are you disappointed to go out on this kind of a note?
I am. We’re better than that. I wish we didn’t have to go out with a physical altercation. But it’s a mixed emotion. I wish we went out on a high note, but then you have fans who are like, “That was the best thing ever.” We all like to see a damn train wreck and somebody else fighting, but I don’t want to see my friends fighting, especially something like that. I did go to Evelyn and say, “I guess I made a bad decision of telling you to tell her then, because I didn’t know you would physically fight.” I think if they hadn’t physically fought and it went smoother than it did, I wouldn’t be seen as the villain here.
Any thoughts on your farewell Miami, in which multiple people confronted Royce? Evelyn called her a “mole.”
I know people have called that an “ambush,” but that was not what that was! The topic of Royce talking to both sides came up. It was never an ambush, it was never just about Royce and we talked about many other things. We left the party all talking. We took pictures together. Everyone was cool. It was just simple girl talk.
Any final thoughts on this season, going into the reunion?
I wish people would broaden their minds a little more. My lesson learned from this season is that some people are extremely narrow-minded. People still don’t understand that, yes this is reality TV, but you have to read between the lines and not take it so literally.