PHOENIX Shaquille O'Neal will lose his special deputy's badge in Maricopa County because of language he used in a rap video that mocks former teammate Kobe Bryant.
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 2006 and promoted him to colonel of his largely ceremonial posse later that year.
"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 2000-02 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.
SONICS TURN TABLES ON SEATTLE: Turns out, Seattle leaders have some issues with e-mail, too.
After months of enduring bombshell releases of incriminating messages that seemed to doom their case, the SuperSonics have produced damning e-mail from Seattle power brokers in the trial that will determine whether the team will move to Oklahoma City or be forced to play the final two years of its lease at Seattle's KeyArena.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman will hear closing arguments Thursday to end this six-day trial.
The Sonics lawyers introduced evidence last week showing the former U.S. senator whom the city hired to lead its effort to keep the team was involved in a "poisoned well" plan to force Sonics owner Clay Bennett the supposed villain in this civic drama into losing so much money he would sell the team to local buyers.
But how much will that matter?Pechman will be focused on the case's fundamental issue: exactly what does the Sonics' lease require? And what is the appropriate remedy for the final two seasons of it, which Bennett's Professional Basketball Club LLC wants to buy out so it can move the Sonics to the owners' hometown for the 2008-09 season?
RODMAN PLEADS NO CONTEST TO SPOUSAL BATTERY: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman pleaded no contest to misdemeanor spousal battery Tuesday in Los Angeles and was ordered to undergo counseling and to perform highway or other physical labor. Two other counts were dismissed under a plea deal, the Los Angeles city attorney's office said.
Rodman was sentenced to a year of domestic violence counseling, three years of probation and 45 days of graffiti removal or road cleanup work for the California Department of Transportation or a similar program in Florida where he lives, said city attorney's spokesman Frank Mateljan.
Rodman also was warned not to intimidate or use force against his girlfriend, Gina Peterson.