The on-again, off-again rivalry between NBA All-Stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant during their time as teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s, are the stuff that legendary sports stories are made of.
On #MambaDay, which celebrated Bryant’s 60-point last game as a Laker four years ago, a story about how tense the rivalry got made headlines.
According to The Miami Herald, despite the fact that the duo won three NBA championships together and is often lauded as one of the most dynamic pairings in NBA history, O’Neal once reportedly offered to pay a teammate $10,000 to beat up Bryant on his behalf.
“When I first get to the Lakers, Shaq tells me, ‘If you and Kobe get into it, it’s 10 Gs in the locker,’” former Lakers player Isaiah “J.R.” Rider revealed during the latest episode of the All The Smoke podcast hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
“This is three days into practice…I’m like, ‘Man, come on, you playing, man.’ ‘There’s 10 Gs in $1 bills, if you ever get into it and you handle your business, grab that.’ … I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, ‘Man, these boys are crazy, bro.’”
Although Rider was a notorious hothead at the time who wasn’t above getting into physical altercations, he recognized that Bryant was off-limits due to his mythical status in the league.
“But this is my thing,” Rider noted. “I would’ve been off that team so fast if I laid a hand on that man [Bryant].”
After their playing days were over, O’Neal and Bryant became cordial enough that their children were friends. O’Neal’s son, Shareef O’Neal, received one of the last texts from Bryant before his tragic passing in January. He died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 7 other passengers.
Watch the episode below: