Basketball Wives has been on for over a decade and one of the main criticisms of the show is that despite its title, the show does not have many actual players' wives. In its inaugural season, the show’s star and executive producer Shaunie O’Neal was in the midst of a divorce from NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal. The only other married cast member of the Miami franchise at the time was Jennifer Williams, who at that point admitted to being estranged from her husband Eric Williams most of the time.
Since the show’s inception, a few other wives have appeared on the show as either full-time co-stars or just friends of the show. But more often than not, the cast is comprised of ex-girlfriends, former fiancees, or assumed groupies.
In a recent interview with Tamron Hall, O’Neal explained that the original concept of the show was to feature wives within the league. Unfortunately, as time went on, more wives became hesitant to join the show.
“Well, you know, honestly when it first started, it was going to be wives. When I had the idea I was a basketball wife. That’s kind of where it started. But it has evolved into, not so much,” she said. “I will be honest. If you are a wife and you come on this show or do reality TV at all, it opens up Pandora’s box. Honestly. People are not nice. So for a successful flourishing marriage, you have to be really, really strong to join this journey. It’s not so much a message, I think it just ended up being the way it is and how it all works. It’s a lot easier for a woman who’s been in a relationship with these guys or maybe just dating to be on this show than it is a — there aren’t a lot of Jackie Christies [laughs]. Jackie Christie is in a successful long-standing marriage and Doug supports her on this show and he participates. It’s not a lot of those guys, so it’s hard. It’s hard to be a wife of a player and do reality TV. That’s just my opinion.”
Currently, Jackie Christie, the longtime wife of Doug Christie, is the only wife on the franchise. Williams, Meeka Claxton, Malaysia Pargo, Tasha Marbury, and Kimsha Artest all have gotten divorced since appearing on the show.
The idea that the show is detrimental to marriages rings true for some. Both Williams’ ex, as well as Matt Barnes - the ex-husband of Gloria Govan - blame the show for the downfall of their marriages.