This is my motherf***ing team, you’re nothing’: Kobe Bryant mocked Shaquille O’Neal in a 1998 lockout pickup game

Kobe Bryant

Excerpts from Jeff Pearlman’s explosive book about the Lakers’ three-peat in the early 2000s are making waves. There’s one incident where Kobe and Shaq went to blows.


We all know how Kobe and Shaq didn’t exactly see eye to eye with each other off the court.

Kobe would often question Shaq’s work ethic, while Shaq had problems with how many shots Kobe would take. They put their differences aside and became threepeaters together, but they could have been so much more dominant if only they were a bit more alike.

The fight between Kobe Bryant and Shaq during a pickup game

Late in 1998, as negotiations were still going on between the players’ association and the league, players would congregate to play pickup at a common venue wherever they were put up.

Once, Kobe and Shaq inadvertently ended up on opposing teams in the same gym. Tensions flaired high as Shaq called some soft fouls on himself after missing shots.

“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.”

A few possessions later, Bryant drove toward the rim, leaned into O’Neal’s body, and scooped the ball beneath his raised arm and into the hoop.

“F— you!” he screamed at O’Neal. “This is my team! My motherf—ing team!”

In the ensuing dialogue, O’Neal threatened to get Kobe traded away. He also said he’d smack Kobe, a promise that he did follow through on in a short while.

It was clearly a very edge, frustrating situation for the both of them. Bryant could have sustained serious damage if other players on the court hadn’t stepped in.

Bryant later on said that this encounter actually helped their relationship rather than hurting it. But it was clear that there was much progress to be made on the relationship front by the duo before they could become champions.


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