Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, along with other Lakers players, got into quite the brawl in 1998 when up against the Spurs.
The Lakers announcers said it best during this game: “The Lakers let their immaturity get the best of them.” Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in their early and mid 20s, respectively during the 1997-98 NBA season, with both leading the Los Angeles Lakers, alongside Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel to a WCSF appearance in merely the tandem’s second year together.
Prior to their 1998 postseason however, the purple and gold would face off against the San Antonio Spurs in a rather meaningless game in early April. Both teams had their records solidified to the point where they would be making the Playoffs so going all out wasn’t exactly on the docket for either squads.
Of course, being the young, feisty teams that they were, tensions grew and emotions were let out. With less than 5 minutes remaining in a game that the Lakers were about to win barring a massive Spurs run, Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and the Lakers saw themselves wrestling with the Spurs into the crowd.
How the Lakers and Spurs brawl escalated after an initial scuffle.
With the Lakers holding a solid double digit lead over San Antonio, Will Purdue of the Spurs seemed to have gotten ticked off at the much smaller Derek Fisher’s box-out on him as he swung the stout guard around, throwing him to the floor. This of course, provoked Shaq and the rest of the Lakers to engage in a scuffle with the Spurs.
Fisher and Purdue were ejected from the game and it seemed as though this blowout victory for LA was starting to take form. Merely 44 seconds following the first scuffle, a second one broke out between Monty Williams and Nick Van Exel near mid-court. This resulted in a much more significant scuffle, escalating it to the likes of a brawl.
A pile of players consisting of Shaq, Kobe, Monty, Van Exel, and more, spilled into the stands, causing fans to evacuate within a 10 foot radius of the fight. Williams was ejected and the Lakers went on to win 99-75.
The Spurs would get their revenge a month or so later however as they swept the young LakeShow in the WCSF, going on to face off against the Utah Jazz in the Conference Finals.