Shaq Offered His Own Teammate A Huge Bounty To Fight Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant on the floor

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Kobe Bryant might be gone after the tragic accident that cut his life short, but he’ll never be forgotten thanks to what he was able to achieve during his 41 years on the planet.

The NBA legend (who died in the helicopter crash that claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people on board in January 2020) left behind a legacy defined by the indelible mark he made on the game of basketball.

The five-time NBA champion was revered by everyone in the league for his play on the court and his work ethic off of it. Stories of him waking up at 3 a.m. for workouts, playing teammates to 100 in one-on-one, and trash-talking opponents to the point of submission constantly remind us just how dedicated Kobe was to being the best.

And he was.

Kobe was willing to do whatever it took to win and that translated to every area of his life. Teammates would claim Kobe was difficult to play with because he would constantly get in their faces if they didn’t share the same drive as him—and 99.9% of the time, they didn’t.

When generational center Shaquille O’Neal joined the Lakers in 1996, the sports world was curious to see how he and Kobe would mesh. Both men were superstars with very different personalities, and it eventually became clear the two didn’t necessarily get along that well despite winning three consecutive titles together.

There are plenty of stories that highlight that reality—but one tale shared by a man who played with both of them sums up just how large the divide really was back in the day.

Why Shaq offered a teammate $10,000 to fight Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and Shaq celebrating after winning

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The rivalry between Shaq and Kobe arguably reached its peak after the Lakers pulled off the threepeat in 2002, but the bad blood was already brewing based on what Isaiah Rider had to say about an encounter with the former after joining the team.

Rider—who signed with the Lakers in 2000—had a bit of a reputation as a “bad boy,” which largely stemmed from an incident during his time with the Trail Blazers where he allegedly spat at an employee and smashed a cellphone after missing his team’s flight.

Shaquille O’Neal attempted to use this information to his advantage while embroiled in his growing feud with Kobe and approached Rider just three days after he joined the Lakers with an offer of $10,000 to fight Bryant in practice.

However, Rider (who may have wised up a bit after the aforementioned fiasco in Portland) knew that if he as much as looked at Kobe the wrong way, he would be sent packing immediately. As a result, he ultimately (and smartly) opted to never take Shaq up on his offer before departing for Denver in 2001.

With that said, the fact that the offer was on the table in the first place paints a pretty vivid picture of just how intense this rivalry was; Shaq was essentially hiring hitmen to go after his nemesis just to get the edge.

Who knows how deep this rivalry actually got? If they were offering bounties to see the other get hurt, it might have been worse than we actually knew it to be. They were cut from the same cloth and sometimes two competitors with intense personalities just do not get along (which is a tale as old as time in the world of sports).

Shaq and Kobe thankfully were able to patch up their relationship after they both retired and became very close. They realized they wanted the same thing but just had different approaches.

They reportedly were great friends and this was all summed up perfectly by Shaq in his speech at Kobe Bryant’s “Celebration of Life” just days after his death.

It’s never too late to bury the hatchet.