Home/NBA

via Imago

They throw down slap fight challenges, trash talk about it, stunt tackle, demonstrate a proper chokehold on each other, expose each other’s bad spellings, and have real and loud arguments before patching up in minutes. For all their cat-and-mousery on Inside the NBA, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley are just two bros who will sincerely profess love for each other when the other isn’t looking. It’s hard to believe that they once came to real fists once upon a time. TNT likes to remind us occasionally with throwbacks to this moment. The question is, who threw the first punch?

The date was November 10, 1999. Just short of retirement and an even shorter fuse, Sir Charles was on his final campaign to win a ring with the Houston Rockets. The opponent was the Los Angeles Lakers where Kobe Bryant took a backseat and big bad Big Diesel was on the court. You’d think Shaq would be laser-focused on Hakeem Olajuwon. But his future TNT colleague was the scene-stealer.

It happened when Chuck was going for a layup in the second quarter. Brian Shaw fouled him and Shaq blocked him while the foul was being called. Depending on who you ask, you could say it was when Shaq shoved Chuck that started it or when Barkley retaliated by throwing a basketball at the center’s face. The famous brawl broke out after that.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

According to O’Neal himself, the fight was bad enough to sour feelings between him and Chuck. It could also be that the Lakers won by one point that night – 89-88. Before they got ejected, Shaq played only 15 minutes and had 6 points with 7 rebounds. Barkley made only 5 points and 4 rebounds in less than 10 minutes. The NBA also slapped them with one-game suspensions without pay. Shaq had to cough $10,000 in fines for punching Barkley. Chuck was fined half of that for throwing the ball at Shaq.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NBA Cobwebs (@nba_cobwebs)

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

At one point, Shaq had Chuck in a headlock. It was not a playful headlock as they would demonstrate two decades later while discussing Draymond Green on Inside the NBA. It was such an intense brawl that it was shocking that Shaq decided to work alongside Barkley in 2011 or that his former sparring opponent would be the reason Chuck renewed his contract in 2015. We can thank two people for making the best duo in NBA entertainment happen.

The real heroes – Lucille O’Neal and Charcey Glenn

Lucille O’Neal and Charcey Glenn thought their sons made better friends than rivals. Both didn’t know their moms were best friends before that. But Shaq said on I Am Athlete, that their mothers mediated a truce. He recalled getting off the bus after that game and his uncle (O’Neal refers to his bodyguards as uncles often) and it’s both Lucille and Charcey on the line. They tell him, “Y’all need to stop that, y’all too legendary.” Preach legendary moms!

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Moms don’t go wrong. Shaq and Chuck have been best friends since 1999. We’ve seen every degree of this dynamic on Inside the NBA since Shaq became a permanent fixture in 2011. They have a few serious arguments like who would win between the Suns and Lakers. Chuck also thinks he can drop Shaq like a sack of potatoes with one slap. When he spots a camera at any of his many events, Shaq proclaims, “I hate you, Charles Barkley.” And Barkley used the entire King Charles promotion spree to call O’Neal ugly.

After their moms, it’s TNT’s host Ernie Johnson who knows there’s no duo as tight as Shaq and Chuck. Now they’re the biggest factor in assuring fans that the Inside Guys aren’t disbanding. To think it started in 1999 when Shaq shoved Chuck. Or Chuck hit Shaq with a ball. Who gets credit?