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Jeff Pearlman Recalls The Time Shaquille O'Neal Slapped Kobe Bryant During Practice

(via Diario AS)

(via Diario AS)

The feud between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal is one of the biggest and most famous stories in the NBA and we never get tired of discovering new things about the relationship Shaq and Kobe had during their time together in the Los Angeles Lakers. Their duo is one of the greatest this league has seen but it also ended in a tumultuous way when Shaq asked the Lakers to decide between him and Kobe.

Things didn't start very well for them, though, and now new details have emerged about their rocky relationship during their first years in California. According to Jeff Pearlman's book, “Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty,” during a pickup game in 1999, Shaq slapped Kobe after a heated exchange.

“They proceeded to divide into teams — some guys over here, some guys over there. O’Neal and Polynice — dueling 7-footers — were on different sides. ‘Kobe was on my squad,’ Polynice recalled. ‘Opposite Shaq’.

“It was just another run, until it was no longer just another run. As he was prone to do in pickup, O’Neal called a series of iffy fouls whenever he missed a shot.

“I’m tired of this s—,” Bryant finally said. ‘Just play’. One more comment like that,” O’Neal snapped, ‘and I slap the s— out of you.’

“O’Neal grabbed the ball in order to freeze action. ‘Say another motherf—ing word,’ he said, staring directly at Bryant. ‘Aw, f— you,’ Bryant said. ‘You don’t kn–’ Smack! O’Neal slapped Bryant across the face. Hard.”

The pair were separated during the incident but that meant something for Shaq and Kobe. One season later, they would go win their first of three titles together with the Lakers. The relationship went down spiral until the Lakers decided to send Shaq to Miami in 2004 when he'd win his 4th and last title in 2006.

Things didn't start very well between them and it was kind of odd thinking they were going to finish differently. Fortunately, they fixed their relationship and we're pretty cool until Kobe was cool last January 26 in a helicopter crash.