LOS ANGELES: Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal defended himself on Friday saying he has nothing against Asians.
O’Neal added he was only trying to be funny when he used a fake Chinese accent to talk about Yao Ming.
“Sometimes I like to joke,” said O’Neal prior to the Lakers 115-99 win over Cleveland on Friday. “I was trying to be a comedian. To say I don’t like Asians is crazy.
“I was raised not to judge people by their views but by their actions so hopefully people won’t judge me by what somebody wrote.”
The Los Angeles centre started the kerfuffle in June during a television interview when he said, “Tell Yao Ming, ‘Ching chong yang wah ah soh’.”
The quote was replayed on a radio show last month and was the subject of a recent column in an Asian-based magazine.
Yao, the first overall pick of Houston in this year's entry draft, said on Friday he can understand why some people might be offended by the comment.
Yao added he believed O’Neal was simply making a joke but made an appeal for better understanding between races.
“The world is getting smaller and has a greater understanding of cultures,” said Yao.
“I believe Shaquille O’Neal was joking with what he said, but I think a lot of Asian people don’t understand this kind of joke.”
When asked if O’Neal owed him an apology, Yao told the paper, “I think that’s something he’ll have to decide.” – AFP