Shaquille O’Neal is big as shit.
At over seven feet tall and somewhere around 330 pounds, he’s not the type of dude who’s had to throw hands too many times over the course of his life. But back in 1999, fellow NBA legend Charles Barkley decided he wanted that smoke. So during the second quarter of a game between the Lakers and Rockets, all hell broke loose when the Round Mound of Rebound threw the ball at Shaq’s head after a hard foul and followed it up with fists of fury.
The two friends can look back and laugh about it now, considering nowadays they quarrel on-air for a living as co-hosts of the Emmy-nominated series Inside the NBA, but at the time, shit could’ve gotten pretty thick. Thankfully, their mothers intervened and forced the two future NBA Hall of Famers to make peace, as Shaq shared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday.
“Me and Charles had a fight,” he began “He hits me in the head with the ball. I’m like, ‘Charles, I respect you, but now I gotta knock you out.’ So I lunge with the left, I wanted him to come on the inside, but he went on the outside, grabbed me, pulled me to the ground.”
After dismissing the fight as not “real,” Shaq detailed what happened after he returned to the locker room and received the one phone call he wasn’t expecting.
“So on two-way was my mom and Charles Barkley’s mom,” he said. “I was like, ‘Hello?’ and she’s like, ‘This is Charles’ mom and your mom’s on the phone too.’ I was like, ‘Yes ma’am, how are you?’ She said, ‘Y’all need to stop. I already talked to Charles. He’s gonna meet you in the hallway. Y’all need to stop and hug. Y’all are two of the greatest players in the world, we don’t want y’all fighting in front of the kids. Y’all stop that.’”
So did the two NBA stars comply?
“I got into the hallway, me and Charles, we hug it out,” Shaq said. “When you play sports, it’s like a spur-of-the-moment thing. It’s never personal. Not that I hate him, but when you throw a ball at me, I got to knock you out, boy boy. You already know what I’m going to do to you, boy.”
This isn’t the first time Shaq’s revisited their on-court tussle, but I always wonder if Brad Miller was ever extended the same grace—considering he almost decapitated that dude on national TV.
But mothers are almost never wrong, so thankfully they personally ensured that cooler heads prevailed.