Kobe Bryant once wanted to pay rape accuser $1 million like ‘Shaquille O’Neal would’ to dismiss complaint

How Kobe Bryant tried to use Shaquille O’Neal’s alleged payments to women as a way to end his rape case in 2004.

Kobe Bryant once wanted to pay rape accuser $1 million like ‘Shaquille O’Neal would’ to dismiss complaint

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant (Images Via Twitter)

September 2004 brought to light an internal Lakers conflict that extended beyond the basketball court. In the middle of a criminal investigation into a sexual encounter involving Kobe Bryant in Colorado, details emerged that Bryant had mentioned fellow Laker superstar Shaquille O’Neal during his interrogation.


According to a police report, Bryant had suggested that O’Neal had previously paid women large sums of money to stay silent about unspecified “situations.” O’Neal’s agent quickly labeled these allegations false, insisting they were “undeserving of a response.”

“This whole situation is ridiculous,” O’Neal told ESPN. “I never hang out with Kobe. I never hung around him. In the seven or eight years we were together, we were never together. So how this guy can think he knows anything about me or my business is funny. And one last thing — I’m not the one buying love. He’s the one buying love.”

Interestingly, much of Bryant’s interrogation was recorded, but the part referencing O’Neal allegedly wasn’t, adding to the skepticism and confusion surrounding the incident. While the context and intent of Bryant’s statement remained unclear, one thing was evident – the deep-seated tension between two of the NBA’s brightest stars was apparent.


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The impact on Bryant and O’Neal’s legacy and the NBA

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (image via USA Today)

Both Bryant and O’Neal had contrasting careers post-2004. Despite the shadows of the investigation, Bryant re-established himself as a Los Angeles Lakers legend, cementing his legacy by signing a $136-million contract over seven years. O’Neal, however, took his talent to the Miami Heat and later moved to other teams, earning himself a unique NBA journeyman status for a player of his caliber.

The Bryant-O’Neal problems serve as a warning despite their prior on-court success, which included three straight NBA titles from 2000 to 2002. It highlights how delicate team chemistry is and how external demands affect professional athletes.

The NBA, a league now heavily focused on player empowerment and mental health, could use this incident as a reference point for guiding future superstars through the challenges of fame, media scrutiny, and interpersonal conflicts.


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