It always seemed like Shaquille O’Neal’s nineteen-year journey through life as an NBA mega-star would make for a compelling read one day, and excerpts released yesterday from his new book appear to indicate that’s precisely what he’s put together. In the book titled Shaq Uncut: My Story, co-authored by longtime NBA columnist Jackie MacMullan, O’Neal speaks in depth and specifically on a litany of topics. From what was released, Shaq offers details on his feud with Kobe Bryant, mentions how he dropped some F’bombs on Pat Riley, and tells a story about Kobe as a rookie ratting him and his buddies out for hazing him and Derek Fisher too much.
Deadspin has more in their full excerpt right here, but below are those few talking points I mentioned above as a primer.
Shaq on his feud with Kobe during the time when Bryant was being investigated for the rape accusation in Colorado:
So I’m on edge because I don’t have a new deal, and Kobe is on edge because he might be going to jail, so we’re taking it out on each other. Just before the start of the ’03-’04 season the coaching staff called us in and said, “No more public sparring or you’ll get fined.” … Phil was tired of it. Karl Malone and Gary Payton were sick of it. … So what happens? Immediately after that Kobe runs right out to Jim Gray and does this interview where he lets me have it. He said I was fat and out of shape. He said I was milking my toe injury for more time off, and the injury wasn’t even that serious. (Yeah, right. It only ended my damn career.) He said I was “lobbying for a contract extension when we have two Hall of Famers playing pretty much for free.” I’m sitting there watching this interview and I’m gonna explode. Hours earlier we had just promised our coach we’d stop. It was a truce broken. I let the guys know, “I’m going to kill him.”
Kobe stands up and goes face-to-face with me and says, “You always said you’re my big brother, you’d do anything for me, and then this Colorado thing happens and you never even called me.” I did call him. … So here we are now, and we find out he really was hurt that we didn’t stand behind him. That was something new. I didn’t think he gave a rat’s ass about us either way. “Well, I thought you’d publicly support me, at least,” Kobe said. “You’re supposed to be my friend.”
Brian Shaw chimed in with “Kobe, why would you think that? Shaq had all these parties and you never showed up for any of them. We invited you to dinner on the road and you didn’t come. Shaq invited you to his wedding and you weren’t there. Then you got married and didn’t invite any of us. And now you are in the middle of this problem, this sensitive situation, and now you want all of us to step up for you. We don’t even know you.” … Everyone was starting to calm down when I told Kobe, “If you ever say anything like what you said to Jim Gray ever again, I will kill you.”
Kobe shrugged and said, “Whatever.” […] From that day on, I was done dealing with Kobe. I was done dealing with Jim Gray, too. What goes around, comes around. When he got fired, he actually had the nerve to call me and ask me to help him out. What, did you lose Kobe’s number?
Funny how Jim Gray makes an appearance. That guy sure has a knack for showing up at all these weird moments in NBA history, doesn’t he? Anyways, below is Shaq on Kobe as a young, cocky, kid who he hazed real bad as a rookie:
He was so young and so immature in some ways, but I can tell you this: everything Kobe is doing now, he told me all the way back then he was going to do it. We were sitting on the bus once and he told me, “I’m going to be the number one scorer for the Lakers, I’m going to win five or six championships, and I’m going to be the best player in the game.” I was like, “Okay, whatever.” Then he looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m going to be the Will Smith of the NBA.”
My first Lakers season we had a couple of rookies, and we hazed them pretty badly. We were dogging them out constantly. It was “Go get my bags, go get me something to eat.” It was kind of a rite of passage in the NBA that a lot of teams do, but we probably went a little too far with it. One of the rookies—Derek Fisher—just took it. The other rookie—Kobe Bryant—ratted us out to Jerry West.
What’s interesting in Shaq’s quote above is that even when he’s calling Kobe a punk for ratting him and his boys out to Jerry West, you can still hear the respect he has for the player he’s since become. Shaq goes as far as admitting that he ‘yeah, whatever’d’ Kobe when he told him he was going to do everything Kobe ended up doing.
As far as Shaq’s time in Miami went, I never realized it got this heated at the end:
My ticket out of Miami was punched in mid-February 2008. There was a lot of tension between Pat and the players. So we’re about to start practice and Jason Williams comes in about ten seconds late. Pat being Pat, he starts swearing at him and screaming, “Get the hell out of here!”…
I tell Pat we’re a team and we need to stick together, not throw guys out of the gym. Pat is screaming at me and says if I don’t like it, then I should get the hell out of practice, too.
That’s when I said, “Why don’t you make me?”
I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then Zo tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll. Now it’s me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I’m poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it’s getting nasty. Noisy, too. He’s yelling “F@ck you!” and I’m yelling back, “No, f@ck you!”
Zo is trying to calm us both down and he has this kind of singsong panic in his voice. He keeps saying, “Big fella, no big fella, big fella!” I finally turn around and tell him, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hit the man. Do you think I’m crazy?”
I’m sorta wondering if Shaq’s going to say anything about his time in Cleveland in the book, specifically his time playing alongside LeBron James, but it doesn’t look like he did. I think Deadspin would’ve excerpted any mention of LeBron James, so I’m going to assume he didn’t because they didn’t.
I’ll still be sure to grab a copy and read it anyways though, goes on sale on November 15th. You can order it here.