Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley might be friends today, but there was a time when they were fierce rivals leading their respective teams to victory in the ’90s. However, after Barkley’s playing days were over, the pair became good friends thanks to their mothers’ support, who encouraged them to make up after one infamous fight. Now co-workers, the pair recently spoke about the impact that this had on both of them.
Anyone who has watched Inside the NBA knows that Shaq and Barkley like to get under each other’s skin. Despite being in their forties and fifties, respectively, the two spar like schoolchildren to get a laugh.
However, during their playing days, the pair faced off in a less funny, more physical way. Barkley was in his last year as an NBA player while O’Neal was about to set off his best years as a Laker.
Fed up with each other, Barkley threw a ball at O’Neal’s head and expected it to cool down from there. Before long, the pair were exchanging blows.
According to Awful Announcing, it was about pride and some good, old-fashioned testosterone. On top of that, he did not expect the thrown ball to escalate that much.
“I also didn’t think that was going to turn into a fight,” Barkley said (per Awful Announcing). “But first of all, it was an NBA fight, so we fought like girls, and it didn’t last very long. But I wasn’t going to let him embarrass me in front of 18,000 people. So you have to fight at some point, but I’m glad nobody got hurt because he’s a great friend, and I enjoy working with him.”
The bad blood may have persisted if their mothers didn’t get involved.
The Moms step in
One of the understated circles in the NBA has nothing to do with players, coaches, or other personnel. It has to do with the players’ moms. While the league can try to control the players and coaches can instill their own will, mothers have the final say in so many situations. Running in the NBA alongside their sons, Shaq and Barkley’s mothers struck up a bond.
Speaking to TMZ reporters, Shaq stated that his mother and Barkley’s mother became friends while the two dominated the NBA in their own ways.
Much like he and Barkley do on television now, the Hall of Fame center stated that their mothers bickered and talked trash much like their sons do today. However, when things got serious it was.
According to O’Neal, Barkley’s mother told him that he and her son were going to go out into the hallway and hug it out before it got more serious. The pair obliged their mothers, and 20 years onward, they are now good friends.
Playing for the camera
Now, the fight is fodder for jokes on Inside the NBA, but some NBA feuds aren’t snuffed this quickly. O’Neal’s own feud with the late Kobe Bryant lasted for years until they finally made up.
Basketball is a competitive sport where people can often lose control in the heat of competition. Still, sometimes it takes a mother’s love to end it then and there.
The bond between NBA players is strong, but the bond between the mothers who meet through their sons might be stronger. Many things might try to bring down NBA players on and off the court, but none are as powerful as an angry mother’s words.