The Dwight Howard saga continues. The latest news out of Orlando is that the superstar basketball player almost came to blows with his Magic teammate Jameer Nelson at the team’s practice facility toward the end of last season. Howard’s endless internal debate between loyalty and trade demands finally got the most of Nelson. But he’s definitely not the first pro athlete to attack his teammate. Here’s a list of some of our favorite intra-team scraps.
Kobe Bryant vs. Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
These two clashed on just about everything. Kobe wanted the ball more. Shaq wanted the ball more. Shaq didn’t think Kobe respected him enough. Kobe thought Shaq didn’t work out enough. None of this kept the duo from racking up three titles together with the Lakers, but Shaq’s outsized ego was just as big as his outsized physique, and Kobe’s ego might’ve trumped both.
Jeff Kent vs. Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants
These two managed to win back-to-back MVP awards while barely speaking to each other in the locker room. Apparently, it all started with a squabble over a seat on the team bus at the first spring-training game the pair played together. The relationship just got frostier from there. The two had numerous shouting matches that finally blew up into an infamous dugout skirmish caught on video in 2002.
Donovan McNabb vs. Terrell Owens, Philadelphia Eagles
These two were all smiles and over-choreographed touchdown dances for most of the 2004 season. Then the Super Bowl struck, where McNabb had trouble orchestrating the two-minute drill at the end of the Eagles 24-21 loss to the Patriots. That’s when TO went all TO on McNabb. In the off-season, Owens criticized McNabb’s work ethic and said he was too out of shape to run the proper offense. Owens didn’t back off his statements and eventually got deactivated for the final nine games of the 2005 season.
Toni Kukoc vs. Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls
This feud started in the early 1990s, when Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf openly coveted Croatian baller Toni Kukoc as an addition to his budding dynasty. Then in 1992, Dream Teamers Michael Jordan and Pippen teamed up to manhandle Kukoc in the Olympic tournament. That didn’t deter Reinsdorf, who wound up signing Kukoc to the Bulls anyway. With His Airness gone on a baseball sabbatical, Kukoc and Pippen had an uneasy struggle to become alpha dog of the Bulls. The back-and-forth came to a head at the end of the third game of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals.
With 1.8 seconds left in a tie game, the Bulls drew up a play for Kukoc, with Pippen inbounding. Pippen refused to go in and the Bulls had to waste their last timeout to substitute for Pippen. Kukoc wound up hitting the game-winning shot as time expired, but the Bulls lost the series. Pippen and Kukoc went on to win three titles together, so we’re assuming they patched things up.
Gilbert Arenas vs. Javaris Crittenton, Washington Wizards
Of all the teammate feuds on this list, these two definitely took it the furthest. Arenas was known for clowning on the younger players during team trips and gambling heavily with his teammates. In 2009, when Crittenton got fed up with Arenas, he told him to pay up or he’d shoot. Two days later, Arenas set out four unloaded guns in the locker room with a note that said “Pick 1.” Unfortunately, Crittenton didn’t see the humor in that note and brandished a loaded gun in the locker room, sending teammates running for their lives. It’s been all downhill for both players ever since, with Arenas falling from perennial All-Star to bench warmer and Crittenton falling on hard times with the law, including a murder charge.
Jason Kidd vs. Jim Jackson, Dallas Mavericks
Love triangles make for great theater, but terrible basketball teams. In the '90s, these two were supposed to return the Dallas Mavericks to prominence. Then Toni Braxton entered the picture. Allegedly, Kidd had a date set up with the R&B singer in Atlanta, but when she showed up at the hotel, Jackson swept in and took her out. Kidd regularly called Jackson selfish during their time together in Dallas. Apparently Kidd wasn’t just talking about Jackson taking opportunities away from him on the court.
Darryl Strawberry vs. Keith Hernandez, New York Mets
If you’re a sports fan, you know that the Mets in the '80s weren’t exactly a bunch of choirboys. But while everyone partied hard together, there was a division between the talented youngsters and the grizzled veterans. Those tensions boiled over during a 1989 team photo, when Strawberry refused to stand next to Hernandez because he didn’t think they were friends. When some unpleasantries were exchanged, fists flew immediately afterwards, with Strawberry connecting a punch to Hernandez’s face. Strawberry then threatened catcher Gary Carter as he was being pulled away.
Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis, Washington Redskins
Word was these two spent their first full season together in Washington bickering like an old married couple. Most people who witnessed the events gave Westbrook credit for walking away from any escalating incidents. But in the heat of an August 1997 training-camp practice, Westbrook snapped. After being called a derogatory term, Westbrook turned on the running back and pummeled him, knocking him to the ground and then continuing to wail on his face. Worst of all for the team, all of it was caught on tape. Westbrook was fined $50,000 and lost the career battle to Davis. After the incident, Westbrook only tallied one 1,000-yard-receiving season while Davis went on to four 1,000-yard-rushing seasons.
Scottie Pippen vs. Charles Barkley, Houston Rockets
When these two Hall of Famers teamed up in Houston in 1999 on the downswing of their careers, NBA fans hoped for one last magical title run. Instead, the Rockets fizzled out in the first round of the playoffs and Pippen moved on to Portland. After the season, a war of words revealed that these two weren’t always on the same page. Barkley claims he made multiple sacrifices to get Pippen to Houston. Scottie claims Charles let him down by coming into camp out of shape. Pippen had the strongest quotes about the relationship, saying, “I wouldn’t apologize to Charles at gunpoint. If anything, he owes me an apology for coming to play with his sorry fat butt.”
Don Sutton vs. Steve Garvey, Los Angeles Dodgers
These two get the Cal Ripken Jr. longevity award for feuding teammates. The pair had lockers next to each other from 1969 to 1980 despite hating each other for most of that time. Like a married couple staying together for the kids, this duo stayed together for 10 straight winning seasons. The final straw: a quote in the papers, of course. Sutton told a newspaper during the 1978 season that Garvey was all image and another teammate was the real MVP of that season. When Garvey confronted Sutton about the quotes, the two tumbled around the locker room. At least one teammate didn’t even try to break up the fight with the hope that the two would hurt each other enough to take their drama with them to the DL.
Next: When Sports Go Horribly Wrong
Tiki Barber vs. Eli Manning, New York Giants
It’s hard to tell if this feud was going on while the pair played together, but judging by how quickly the usually quiet Manning shot back at his retired ex-teammate, it seems like everything wasn’t exactly running smoothly in the locker room during the 2006 season. The year after Barber retired, he fired some verbal jabs at Eli, doubting his leadership abilities. Manning chose to talk back through the media, questioning Barber's use of the 2006 season as a type of farewell tour and tryout for a job in media. Barber put up fantastic numbers throughout his career, but Eli got the last laugh, winning the first of his two Super Bowls in the first season of Barber’s retirement.