Shaunie O'Neal dishes about 'Basketball Wives,' Royce Reed
Just in time for the NBA All-Star game, "Basketball Wives" star Shaunie O'Neal -- a.k.a. Shaquille O'Neal's ex-wife -- is shutting down rumors that beau Marlon Yates has been fooling around with co-star Royce Reed, and sounding off about the rest of the drama that's been percolating when the cameras are off.
Rumors had been flying around the VH1 reality show as NBA All-Star weekend approached, with sources saying that O'Neal's model-boyfriend Yates had has buying gifts for Dwight Howard's baby mama, allegedly with O'Neal's money. But O'Neal has said that's preposterous.
"Royce is not guaranteed to come back for Season 3. We are really trying to come up with something else and she's aware of it," O'Neal told the Ministry in a phone interview.
Guess that's what happens when a "basketball wife" starts dating outside the basketball arena, and can't talk about the basketball player who's the father of her child?
L.A. resident O'Neal had a busy weekend on tap. She's planning to take her children (P.S. She has five!) to the All-Star game on Sunday at Staples Center, hit her son's basketball tournament in Anaheim and host a charity event at the Louis Vuitton store in Beverly Hills.
She's also been dealing with the Reed fallout. O'Neal said the show (currently eight episodes into its second season) has outgrown Reed, "Wives'" Camille Grammer-equivalent, and she's desperate to stay relevant.
"Season 1 we establish [Royce] as Dwight Howard's ex-girlfriend and mother of his son. Season 2, she's now dating again, or dating other people that she seems to be pretty serious with," O'Neal said. "And she can't talk about her son, she can't talk about Dwight, and it's no connection any more, and the legal part of it has almost gotten more strict."
O'Neal said her boyfriend, Yates -- a runway model and actor who is shooting two pilots -- never really interacts with Reed outside of Twitter or social events, and has been dragged unwillingly into the drama.
Exec producer O'Neal said she's in talks to cast a replacement for Reed, whom she said is building up hype in the hopes that fans fight for her to stay.
"It's unfortunate that she would feel that she has to strum up these lies or just lie at all just to keep herself relevant. It could have been a lot smoother and easier ... but lying on people and that kind of stuff is really childish and very unprofessional," O'Neal said.
Reed doesn't seem to be taking anything lightly: She supposedly banned the "Basketball Wives" from her NBA All-Star weekend event. And according to O'Neal, Reed picked fights with cast members Evelyn Lozada and Jennifer Williams during the taping of the reunion show last Saturday. That simply added to the show's fair share of catfights in Los Angeles, Miami and most recently Madrid, where the wives ganged up on Reed, who seemed to be having a miserable time. (Watch the clip.)
"It's all realistic, if you get a group of ladies and you stick them together almost every day for three, four months you're going to have some catfights," O'Neal said.
"You're going to have that with women in general. It's in every circle and just depends on the amount of time you spend with each other."
The drama-filled reality show has even piqued the interest of ex-husband Shaquille O'Neal, from whom she split in 2009 but "is supportive of what I do," she said.
"There's some times he wants a sneak peek of what's going on. He might see a preview and he'll call me and be like, 'Oh my God, what's going to happen?' "
-- Nardine Saad
Photos, from top: Shaunie O'Neal from the VH1 series "Basketball Wives"; the cast of "Basketball Wives." Credits: VH1