Former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal has never been one to pull punches, so we knew what to expect when he began working on an autobiography with Jackie MacMullan, Shaq Uncut: My Story.
Now that the book is about to be published, it’s clear that the Diesel may have gone even deeper than we expected, speaking up about his embattled relationship with former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, and his feud with Coach Pat Riley during their time with the Miami Heat.
Here are a couple interesting takes from the book, which hits the stands Nov. 15. Deadspin.com obtained a copy of the autobiography in advance and was only too happy to share some of the juicier passages.
On the frosty relationship with Bryant and what was really the last straw, after Bryant was accused of rape in Colorado prior to the 2003-04 season:
“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 [Jackson] 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.’
“[Coach] 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?”
On the feud with Riley, which was the beginning of the end of Shaq’s time in Miami:
“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"....
“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 h--- 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 [Alonzo Mourning] 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."
“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?’"
No, but it sure makes for a good story.
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris
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