Back in 2002, Kobe Bryant got into an altercation with teammate Samaki Walker that resulted in Walker having a black eye. Here’s how USA Today reported the incident back then:
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant and Walker were horsing around on the team bus before Thursday’s game at Cleveland when Bryant hit Walker in the eye.
“It’s just kid’s play, it’s juvenile stuff,” Jackson said. “This is an isolated incident. To be honest, I didn’t feel it was of any importance, but there was a noticeable mark on Samaki.”
Walker, who is traveling with the team despite being on the injured list, wore a bandage over his right eye while on the bench Thursday night. The bandage was off before Friday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Bryant had little to say about the event, and seemed surprised there was so much interest in it.
“It wasn’t a punch out,” Bryant said. “It’s not a season-turner.”
According to Walker, the beef originated from a post-practice game the Lakers would play. Each player would put $100 in a pot, and then take turns trying to make a half-court shot. Whoever was first to make a shot would take home the pot. As Walker tells it, Kobe won the contest that day, and Walker assumed he had 48 hours to hand over his $100. Apparently, he was wrong about that:
It wasn’t even 48 hours, Kobe comes to me on the bus, asking me where his $100 is, believe it or not. Out of all the people, he chose me, which is still to this day puzzling. I told him, “Man, I don’t have no $100 on me right now. First of all, why are you coming at me for $100?” With that being said, I put my earphones back on, and once I put my earphones back on, the most amazing thing happened. Kobe, he sucker punched me.
Walker goes on to say that he made Phil Jackson stop the bus, at which point he invited Kobe to step outside with him. Kobe apparently declined.
You can listen to the whole interview below: