Shaunie O’Neal’s Opinion And Defense Of How Black Women Are Portrayed On Basketball Wives


For nearly three seasons, Basketball Wives has explored the drama between a core group of women who at one point or another have all had it out with each other, with varying degrees of violence, anger, and…creative language. And of course when women behave badly, they come under fire for it, and the women on this show certainly receive their fair share of criticism. Shaunie O’Neal, who not only stars on the show but executive produces, is fully aware of the negativity directed toward the show, and in a commentary she wrote for, O’Neal acknowledges and defends the women of Basketball Wives.

We’ve pulled some highlights from her piece which address the biggest issues from the show, feel free to read the entire thing over on CNN, and weigh in on Shaunie’s defense in the comments. Shaunie writes:

I have gotten both good and bad responses from viewers about “Basketball Wives,” and I certainly understand the opinion that the shows portrayal of black women is beginning to look somewhat negative.

As you see on the show, I’m not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there’s bound to be a little drama…

The problem for me is when black women are portrayed as only being that way and labeled different than their non-black counterparts for the same type of behavior. That’s when it becomes negative and damaging to our image.

I’m not saying we have to create shows that only paint a pretty picture about who we are, but there should be a balance and most of all some integrity to the shows we create.

That’s why I wanted to do “Basketball Wives.” I wanted to show what life is really like when you are with a professional athlete — and that sometimes all that glitters isn’t gold…

That’s the heart of “Basketball Wives,” and I believe that if you look closely and beyond the arguing and the fighting, you’ll see a group of women trying to get their lives back on track and figure out who they really are.

Commentary: Negative portrayals of black women on reality TV [CNN]

[Photo: Getty Images]

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  1. Shirley says:

    What you say about others is what you are saying about your self. If you don’t like the show don’t watch.
    But calling names doesn’t say very much about you. i watch the show some time, but in reality i know its a show and these ladies are playing a role.
    To call a person names and than tell them not to used God’s name in vain, i think God will forgive the person for that.
    But the names you call this person says you are jealous and have low self esteen.

  2. salt says:

    Hey girl we love u dont worry about what people say, white people have more show than black woman and look what they doing to each other .

  3. Celery says:

    The “women” on this show act like uneducated animals. If I don’t like someone I don’t seek them out to see why they don’t get along with another person. The show is staged for drama and women need to lift eachother up, not act like these idiots. Tami is the worst, she should be in a zoo. I won’t watch the show anymore. (PS, none of the women on the show are as beautiful as they think they are – they ALL need nose jobs. Evelyn is a violaent orangutan who needs a major nose job.) Classless trash and this show proves money does not give someone refinement or class.

  4. hollywood!!! says:

    whatever shaunie…

  5. Stephanie from MD says:

    I can’t OVERLOOK that many of the reality shows promote and celebrate some of the more negative behaviors BB Wives have displayed…BUT lets ADMIT WE ALL KNOW people JUST LIKE EACH of the characters ON SOME LEVEL…perhaps not as fabulous, beautiful or rich but THE PERSONALITIES…most definitely. Many OF US can IDENTIFY with WHAT the ladies are going through, WHERE they are in life, what their desires, hopes and dreams are, their successes and failures. For some of us we have gone through a little cat fight ourselves….so we can’t look down at our nose at the next woman for not having what it takes to bypass all that and reach higher ground without a scratch. I really ENJOY the show. OFTEN you have all “wild cats” but I feel each lady is UNIQUE and holds her own. I wouldn’t watch the show if all the women behaved like Tammi does most episodes…and as much as I like Evelyn from what I have seen of her AS A PERSON, her behavior OFTEN isn’t was glowing as she is. Jennifer offers the group BALANCE. She has had her moments, but it took quite a bit to get her to THAT POINT. I hope he show is one for a long time…and I am not happy there wasn’t a show YESTERDAY. NOT HAPPY. You hear! …smashing a glass and cussing profusely. LOL!

  6. Ce_ce says:

    One thing I don’t like about the show is that new girl Meeka. She’s such a follower and mad annoying. Shaunie, please do not bring her back for the next season. She brings nothing to the show that is even remotely entertaining. Everytime she comes on I want to change the channel. Don’t bring her back!

  7. Tania says:

    Yeah right! You were the cause of some of that mess on the show.

  8. Olivv says:

    “The problem for me is when black women are portrayed as only being that way and labeled different than their non-black counterparts for the same type of behavior. That’s when it becomes negative and damaging to our image.

    I’m not saying we have to create shows that only paint a pretty picture about who we are, but there should be a balance and most of all some integrity to the shows we create.:

    That’s really all she needed to say. IMO, whenever there is controversy about a show misrepresenting a specific group of minorities (be it black women in this case, or like the backlash that jersey shore got from italians) the people on the show should really just ignore it. First of all it’s stupid to even suggest that a few black women on a reality can even be considered representations of black women as a whole… nobody thinks that way. Secondly, i think it’s very unrealistic to suggest that anyone should censor their behavior just to present an image that it “suitable.”

    Like Shaunie said, people aren’t 100% perfect and happy all the time…

  9. Genie In A Bottle says:

    I pity the guy who is attracted to you–because you have nothing but RAGE inside you, as you try to get your life back on track and figure out who you REALLY are. Oh, because I KNOW you are not just referring to the other female cast members. Because if you are, that is really condescending.

  10. Lilylilmama says:

    Shaunie in a walking contradiction if she actually believe the crap spewed in this article… Is Shaunie watching the same show??? anywho… In my opinion, I think the way “THE CIRCLE” handles situations like the ROYCE/Gloria/Sandra(plastic surgery)/Suzie issues, indeed portray “THE CIRCLE” in a negative light, but not all Black WOMEN… Case and point, not inviting Royce to the trip because on the last trip Royce caught strep throat and was a DEBBIE DOWNER but, Evelyn and Jen Crashed a charity event, Tami got drunk /ghetto at the same said Charity Event, how “THE CIRCLE” tried to geek their so-called Bestie Jen up to cheat on her husband, and let us not forget about MEEKA… But Royce is too messy to be invited??? All we’ve seen so far is a bunch of BBW’s (BITTER BLACK WOMEN) SPIT VENOM on each other and go above and beyond the call of duty to tare eachother down… The fact that Shaunie upholds her “CIRCLE” in the wrong ON “CAMERA”, does indeed portray THEM in a NEGATIVE light…

  11. Robin says:

    I feel that women should know who they are before marrying men of this magnitude.I feel that most of these type of women marry for fame, money and after the marriage if they don”t accomplish a lot they become bitter and angry. If they marry for the right reason then they might get a better result . How did they get them??????? They are all street and hood women look at the way they act .

  12. Dani says:

    Congrats on your show. But Shaunie I think as the queen B you should be more balance with you cast members. Because I think you, Jennifer and Evelyne are the MEAN GIRLS. You are the popular mean girls. You ganged up with Evelyne who is pretty and have a big mouth without giving a chance to Royce. Evelyne is the popular girl everyone wants to hang with because she is pretty and now dating a big athlete but she has had trouble with ALL the girls on the show. How is that because she the mean one but because she is pretty you all especially YOU give her a pass. I think that’s wrong. Royce is not necessary right but I least I understand her position.

  13. Dani says:

    Oh and by the way I think you were wrong for not inviting Royce to Rome and looked/seemed very weak and AFRAID of EVELYNE.

  14. Aces007 says:

    One more thing and I’m done with this PATHETIC CIRCUS. I have Friends In the Basketball World and their SOOO MANY that are EMBARRASSED about this Show It’s UNREAL. And thats a fact BOO, LOL…

  15. itsallgood says:

    shaunie if you want to keep your fans watchin u really need to check tami, she is out of control, i know u need ratings for the show but i am getting really tried of her mouth and getting into fights with everyone can’t you find something for her to do, she seems so bored and out of place on the show that why she picks fights like a child, u should encourage her to go back to school or something everytime she comes on air i want to change channels i enjoy the show but its like watching romper room when she comes on, and evelyn oh boy that another story she needs therapy for real she got life so fluffed up, you are a smart woman you can do much better with the show but tami behind the scenes wayyy behind boo boo

  16. Rhonda keller says:

    I love your show, I don’t care who don’t like it!!!Don’t watch it!!! I hate Meka black ass and she deserve that old fashion slap in her mouth!!!!! Tammy keeps it real 100!Royce stands her own ,but she is a bum and she is tacky, I don’t want to see her in the next show , she is a non factor in the show kmsl love Eve ,Jen ,,,Suzi i have never seen a messy white girl like that much love!!!!

  17. A Arties says:

    OMG! This episode was the worst, I hope this will be the last season.

  18. Hazeleyes09 says:

    DRAMA, I know thats a word I hear all the time about “Basketball Wives” and it is so true. Shaunie everyone has had big drama except you and with you being in the position your in I guess not. All of you are grown women and it seem like your putting the behavior on the men you all chose to have as husbands, fathers and your money makers. When you go into a situation for the wrong reasons sometimes things don’t turn out the way we mat want them to. Suzie couldn’t be a friend of my puppy. To me she is what you call a “WANNABE”. What I don’t understand is why do some of the women discuss anything with her when you know she can’t hold water..stop saying things arouind her.Tammy is just crazy, Eve slept with ther husband they had a pushing thing going but in the end it was ok..what wrong with that picture. she has had a very bad life after her marriage, down to the lowest from where she started, so I guess the girl is just mad with the world, but she she still don’t have to act like her mama didn’t raise to her to be a lady.Meeka just shut your mouth, you don’t have any friends with the group your hanging with. Everybody is talking about the other. ROYCE I’m sooo glad you didn’t go to Italy…girl go ahead with your career and if Eric can help you get there then go for it. The joke is on Shaunie because she didn’t want you to go……she just don’t know she did you a favor. I hope Chad is looking at all this, he may need to think 4 times about the marriage…….

  19. Paula says:

    Shaunie is pimping these women as someone else stated. If anyone on the show is out of the 5th grade then something is very very wrong with them all! Tami is an idiot in the purest sense of the word! Suzie is so desperate, to be in “the circle”, that she quietly keeps things messy. TRASH is still TRASH no matter who they are,where they reside or who they know or how much money is around. That goes for all the cast who “keep it real”. Real trash.

  20. montana says:

    You seem to enjoy Tami and all of her smart azz comments and face making and impersonating and name calling a little too much to write what you have written. Tami is how should I put it ? Straight up Ghetto Thug? Yeah , that’s how I will put it. Why in God’s name would you have even invited that peice of classless trash on the show in the first place. I hope Meeka sues her and gets a pretty penny doing so. Evelyn isn’t much better. Just goes to show , you can take the girls out the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the girls. I have no idea why Susie is even on the show she is pathetic and reminds me of a 3rd grade tattletale.

  21. snickers says:

    Not strong nor opinionated just plain old ghetto.This show has sunk to a new low. With the trail blazed before by political officers, business women, etc. now we have this tomfoolery to deal with.
    Sell out!!!!

  22. Tasha says:

    Shaunie, I feel like this is your show and you have a lot of control over how Tami act’s… it seems like all the women on the show respect you so you can tell Tami the truth about how she’s acting an not condone her behavior….

  23. Pat S says:

    I find you fake and phony you act like your the peace maker and above the rest but your not you are just as much an instigator as the rest I can not believe O’Neil ever married you but I can see why he’s gone. I feel sorry for your kids. You do nothing to help the negative image of black woman in this show its sad and pathetic and no wonder why its so difficult for you all to find a man that really wants you. get your priorities straight and raise your family and get out of the spot light you wont be missed

  24. trublue says:

    very sad to see a 40 something yr old woman who hasnt changed since her 20′s. Back when Tammi was on the Real World she had the same abruptive character, or lack thereof. Here we are 20 yrs later and again she’s involved with all this violence. On the Real World she had David kicked off because he was too aggressive when horsing around. What a contradiction in your character, Tammi.