The date was November 10, 1999 at Houston’s Compaq Center.
Shaq’s Los Angeles Lakers were up 30-26 on Chuck’s Houston Rockets.
During a play, Shaq bumped Chuck on the head. Barkley swung an elbow or two in retaliation, with Shaq pushing him back.
And then it happened: Barkley threw the basketball in Shaq’s face.
Shaq threw a punch in response and while swinging, both players tackled one another.
“I also didn’t think that was going to turn into a fight,” Charles Barkley told me on Scoop B Radio.
“But first of of all, it was an NBA fight, so we fought like girls and it didn’t last very long.”
Both players were ejected from the game. The Lakers won the game 89-88. Glen Rice led all Lakers players with 24 points and the Rockets’ Steve Francis had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Houston loss.
“He was doing all that wild monkey [stuff], throwing [elbows], acting crazy,” O’Neal said back then.
“I think that was a tactic to get me out of the game, and it worked. I’ll probably have to be a little smarter next time, just wait to get him back later.”
Years later, Barkley says he had his pride to play for. “I wasn’t going to let him embarrass me in front of 18,000 people, so you have to fight at some point,” he told me.
“But I’m glad nobody got hurt because he’s a great friend and I enjoy working with him.”
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, former Houston Rockets forward, Kenny Thomas was sitting on the bench when it all went down.
Check out an excerpt from our dialogue below.
Kenny Thomas on the Shaq and Barkley fight in 1999:
“I was on the bench so; I don’t know what was said. But it happened right in front of our bench and then when I saw Charles pick him up, but he had to get below his waist a little bit; but when Charles picked him up, I was like, “Oh my God. Charles just picked up Shaq! How does that happen?” [laughing]… in college they used to call me ‘Shaq of the WAC’ – I’m not trying to be that dude but yeah, I was that dude. But I was big though, you know what I’m saying? But at the same time, at Utah I had to go against Keith Van Horn and Andre Miller and Michael Doleac. And Hanno [Mattola]…but just the fact of playing in the NBA, was like an unreal dream and being able to play with some of the greats, is a blessing man.”