Kobe Bryant is all smiles on his farewell tour, his eyes no longer sharp like knives. The way he's softened in his old age, you're almost inclined to forget how crazy a competitor he was.
Former Laker Samaki Walker is here to remind you. In a recent podcast interview, Walker shared an intense story from 2002 when he owed Bryant $100, and how that simple unpaid debt almost led to a huge blowup.
"He won the half court contest and the rule is you get 48 hours to pay the hundred dollars," he told CBS Radio's Brown and Scoop Podcast. "Well, it wasn't even 48 hours, Kobe comes to me on the bus and asks where his hundred bucks are, believe it or not.
"I told him, 'Listen, I don't have no hundred bucks on me right now.' First of all, why are you coming at me for a hundred bucks?"
According to Walker, Bryant had a short temper, and came at him again.
"I put my earphones back on and once I put my earphones back on, the most amazing thing happened. Kobe sucker punched me," Walker said. "With that, all hell broke loose. First of all, I'm totally shocked that this man chose me to put his hands on and I'm still not understanding why."
Walker is convinced the flare-up had to be about something other than the hundred-dollar debt.
The full interview can be listened to here. It involves Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal's bodyguard and another near-fight that almost occurs at the team's hotel:
Walker is pretty clear about one thing, though: If it wasn't for an intervention, he and Bryant definitely would have come to blows. And Walker knows he would have been the one to pay the price.
Says Walker: "If it wasn't for Jerome, Shaq's bodyguard, coming in and talking to me, who I highly respected, I probably would've been gone from the Lakers a lot quicker."