June 8 (UPI) — NBA nice Shaquille O’Neal urged the New Orleans Saints final week to keep collectively within the wake of quarterback Drew Brees’ nationwide anthem comments.

League sources informed ESPN and NBC Sports activities on Monday that O’Neal addressed the Saints in a digital assembly Thursday. The previous NBA star warned the staff that the media will “attempt to divide you.”

“They are going to attempt to divide you, similar to they divided us with the Lakers! Me and Kobe [Bryant], we had an excellent factor going, however the media divided our staff,” O’Neal mentioned in the course of the Saints’ digital staff assembly. “We might have gained 5 extra championships!

“Keep robust. Do not let the media divide you! Do not let social media divide you!”

The Professional Basketball Corridor of Fame heart was booked greater than two weeks in the past to be a visitor speaker for the Saints’ digital assembly final week. After Brees’ divisive comments concerning NFL gamers kneeling in the course of the nationwide anthem Wednesday, the topic of the assembly grew to become a discussion board for the Professional Bowl quarterback to apologize to the staff.

O’Neal talked about being in attendance for the Saints’ assembly Thursday on TNT. He did not disclose his message to the staff, however he did talk about how Saints gamers accepted Brees’ apology.

“They mentioned, ‘Drew, we all know your character. We all know you stepped in some stuff which you could’t get out of. However guess what, we would like you to do extra constructive issues and fewer speaking.’ They usually all mentioned we settle for your apology,” O’Neal mentioned.

Brees apologized twice on social media for his comments final week, as soon as on Thursday earlier than the Saints’ assembly and once more on Friday. He additionally stood by his apology Friday evening after President Donald Trump criticized the quarterback for altering his stance.

O’Neal and Bryant, who gained three straight NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-02, had quite a few arguments via the media over their respective roles on the staff. The problems between the duo led to a commerce that despatched O’Neal to the Miami Warmth in 2004 and a long-term extension for Bryant.

Years later, the pair of NBA legends repaired their relationship. When Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January, O’Neal paid his respects to the guard on a number of events.