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Shaquille O’Neal’s surprising response to Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock

The NBA legend has not been particularly critical of the actor, and has offered him some advice on how to deal with the situation.

Shaquille O’Neal gives his opinion on Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock
Getty Images for Icy Hot

The weeks go by and the reactions to Will Smith’s shocking moment at the 2022 Oscars - in which he slapped Chris Rock after the latter made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett, who suffers from alopecia - continue to pour in. One of the latest to speak out has been NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, someone who rarely sits on the fence (lucky for the fence!).

Shaquille O’Neal slam
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How did Shaq respond to Will Smith slap?

So far there has been a bit of everything. There are those who have tried to apologise for Smith, or at least tried to understand him and praise him, but most have come down hard on the actor made famous for his role in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, for his unacceptable behaviour on such an important stage and in front of the eyes of the watching world.

But Shaq, who is not exactly known for his political correctness, wanted to settle the debate about whether the act itself was wrong by setting himself up as an example.

I’m never going to say I was wrong for throwing that punch at Brad Miller. You’re never going to hear me say it. It happened, we moved on,” O’Neal said, referring to his 2002 punching of the Chicago Bulls player during his time with the Lakers.

On that occasion, the NBA punished the player with a three-game suspension and a $15,000 fine, but Shaq doesn’t seem to regret it and doesn’t think Will Smith should do the same for his slap of Chris Rock.

“If you ask 10 guys, four of them will say, ‘I’d do the same thing for my wife. I don’t care about the consequences. That man disrespected my wife. I have to do what I have to do’.

“Two others will say, ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ and the other four will say, ‘That was wrong, you shouldn’t have done that,’” Shaquille added on his podcast, The Big Accountability.


Shaq’s advice to Will Smith

In addition, O’Neal also offered Smith some advice: “Don’t let people make statements for you,” said one of the most dominant centres in NBA history.

After what happened, Smith has opted exclusively to go down the apology route, while everyone else, including his wife, have not exactly been supportive. “He overreacted, I don’t need my husband to defend me,” said Pinkett.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pose on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals.
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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith pose on the red carpet during the Oscars arrivals.MIKE BLAKEREUTERS

In any case, Smith must continue to deal with public scorn and punishment from the Academy, while he begins to suffer the consequences of his actions and Chris Rock, ironically, increases his appeal and fattens his bank account.


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