Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the Phoenix Suns center’s use of a racially derogatory word and other foul language left him no choice. Arpaio made Shaq a special deputy in January and promoted him to colonel of his largely ceremonial posse earlier this month.
“I want his two badges back,” Arpaio told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they’re fired. I don’t condone this type of racial conduct.”
Shaq was seen in a video posted on the celebrity news and gossip Web site TMZ.com rapping that “Kobe couldn’t do without me.” O’Neal skewers the Lakers’ star, with whom he won three straight NBA titles from 2000-2002 while with Los Angeles, for not being able to win a championship without him.
“I was freestyling. That’s all. It was all done in fun. Nothing serious whatsoever,” O’Neal told ESPN.com Monday. A call to the Suns on Tuesday seeking comment from O’Neal was referred to his public relations firm, which didn’t immediately respond.
Arpaio, who describes himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” and is best known for feeding jail inmates green bologna, clothing them in pink underwear, and making them work on chain gangs, said he didn’t expect his actions would teach Shaq a lesson. But he hoped he learns that as a role model who wants to someday be a full-time sheriff, he needs to know his words matter.
“Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t think that either conduct should be out there publicly, even if media wasn’t there,” Arpaio said.
O’Neal previously served as a reserve officer with the Miami Beach Police Department while playing for the Miami Heat. He also volunteered with the Tempe Police Department after being traded to the Suns in February.