The retired NBA star issued a strongly worded statement Friday apologizing after an offensive post related to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 was spotted on his personal website and Facebook page. The since-removed posts asked if 9/11 was an inside job.
"This might make you think twice ... what do you think? #NeverForget #Remember911," read the entry on Shaq's official pages. The post included a photo of one of the planes slamming into the World Trade Center with the headline: A Close Up Video was Discovered of 9/11: You Won't Believe What It Shows!
O'Neal blamed his brand marketing company for the damning post before removing it from the Internet, according to the statement published by Deadspin.
"This post was insulting and offensive, and I apologize to everyone who came across it," Shaq said. "Once I learned that it was on my Facebook page and blog, I ordered it removed and fired the firm that posted it.
"I am not and never have been a "9/11 truther." My father served our country and I am immensely proud of the sacrifices people make daily to keep us safe. The events of 9/11 were a horrible tragedy for our nation and it's a disgrace that anyone would think otherwise."
The article recieved 5,483 likes and 2,539 shares in about three hours, according to a screengrab from the New York Post — and a whole lot of political backlash.
O'Neal had been working with an online marketing and social-media company called Digital Mavericks to post content to his official sites.
The CEO of Digital Mavericks blamed a rogue employee for the post.
"Our firm helped manage content for Shaquille O'Neal's Facebook page and blog," CEO Matt Argall said, according to Deadspin. "(Thursday), one of our employees posted a link on Mr. O'Neal's social media that related to the tragic events of 9/11. Mr. O'Neal had no knowledge of the posting.
"Further, it does not represent the views of Mr. O'Neal, our clients or our organization. We sincerely apologize. We have removed the link from Mr. O'Neal's social media and no longer manage social media content for him. We are very sensitive to the tragedy of 9/11 and apologize greatly for this post."
Shaq is a busy man — with all of his broadcasting, commercial and promotional commitments — so it's easy to give The Big Patriot the benefit of a doubt.