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Monday, November 3, 2003
I hate you like a brother

By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

Shaq vs. Kobe. They say their feud's over, but we've heard that before, and we know it's not. Probably won't be until one exits the L.A. stage. It's a "great" feud, in terms of providing entertainment value for the viewing, listening, and reading public. So how does the Shaq-Kobe dance stand up against the most memorable teammate grudges?

1. Don Sutton vs. Steve Garvey
Sutton and Garvey shared the Dodger clubhouse between 1969 and 1980, and even had lockers next to each other, but there was no love lost between them. Their feud came to a head during the 1978 season. Sutton, in a Washington Post article, was quoted as saying, "All you hear about on our team is Steve Garvey the All-American boy. But Reggie Smith was the real MVP. We all know it ... (Smith) has carried us the last two years. He is not a facade. He does not have the Madison Avenue image."

Steve Garvey
Garvey's good-boy image finally got to Sutton in their infamous clubhouse brawl.

This irked Garvey, who confronted Sutton, asking if the quotes were accurate. Sutton said they were. Then, according to wire reports, "Suddenly Sutton leaped at Garvey and flung him against a row of lockers along the opposite wall. The two players went down heavily and were clawing at one another, trying ineffectively to land punches."

When the two were finally separated, Garvey, cut and scratched on the face, was dazed. Sutton had a bruised cheek.

Garvey wasn't well-liked by many Dodgers, and apparently Sutton had some clubhouse foes, too. According to Tommy John, during the brawl someone yelled, "Stop the fight, they'll kill each other!" Catcher Joe Ferguson's response: "Good."

2. Joe Tinker vs. Johnny Evers
Tinker to Evers to Chance. Trio of bear cubs and fleeter than birds, Tinker to Evers to Chance. Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble, making a Giant hit into a double -- words that are heavy with nothing but trouble: Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Through the magic of poetry, Tinker, the Cubs' shortstop, and Evers, the second baseman, are linked together forever in one of baseball's enduring rhymes. But the double-play combo, teammates from 1902-1913, didn't talk to each for 33 years beginning in 1905 after the two argued over a cab fare and later fought on the field.

Tinker set up the rules of enragement the day following the incident: "Don't talk to me and I won't talk to you," he said to Evers. "You play your position and I'll play mine, and let it go at that."

3. Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan
Maybe we're stretching the definition of teammates here, but the two cuddly, beloved skaters were both on the U.S. Olympic Team in 1994, and even (gasp! get the cameras) shared the ice during one skating practice. And this was after everyone knew about Harding's involvement in the knee-whack attack.

4. Barry Bonds vs. Jeff Kent
In June 2002, as the Giants headed toward the World Series, Bonds and Kent, who had a long-running "behind-the-scenes" feud (that everyone knew about), finally went public, as their brawl in the Giants dugout was caught on video.

Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds
Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds had a little dugout "discussion" in 2002.

"Just add that to the half a dozen times we've done it before. It's no big deal," Kent said.

No big deal. In the brawl's immediate aftermath, Kent reportedly said to Baker, "I want off this team."

Kent signed with the Astros as a free agent after the 2002 season ended.

5. Jason Kidd vs. Jim Jackson
Jason and Jim -- part of the "Three J's" (Jamal Mashburn was the third) who were supposed to rebuild the Mavericks in the mid-1990s, feuded almost the whole time they were together in Dallas -- 2 1/2 seasons. The cause of the rift? Well, Kidd accused Jackson of selfishness, on the court.

But saucier things happened (or didn't happen) off the court. The story goes that singer Toni Braxton stopped by the Mavs' hotel in Atlanta to pick up her date for the evening -- Kidd -- but left with Jackson instead. And then milked the ensuing publicity for all it was worth, telling a reporter who asked about the situation, "I've at least heard of them [but] as far as dating, whether it's true or not, I can never kiss and tell."

Kidd demanded a trade -- either him or Jackson -- and the Mavs dealt him to the Suns. Jackson exited just a few months later . But both denied Braxton caused the rift. "I don't know how many times we have to say it," Jackson said. "He says it, I say it, it's never happened. It's ridiculous."

"I've never met her," Kidd said long after. "But those type of things hurt a young team. We didn't know how to handle it."

6. Darryl Strawberry vs. Keith Hernandez
Spring training, 1989. Mets team photo day. Bud Harrelson calls out the first row of players: "Johnson, Carter, Hernandez, Strawberry ..."

Strawberry to Harrelson: "I only want to sit next to my real friends."

Strawberry to Hernandez: "Why you got to be saying those things about me?"

Hernandez: "Grow up, you crybaby."

Strawberry: "---- you, ---- ."

Hernandez, "--- you."

Then Strawberry punched Hernandez (little damage done) and other players rushed in to hold the two apart.

Strawberry to Hernandez: "I've been tired of you for years!"

Gary Carter enters the scene.

Strawberry to Carter: "You're next!"

Strawberry's fuse had blown because he had threatened to walk out of camp over a contract dispute, and neither supported his side.

Michael Jordan and Kwame Brown
Did Brown, right, finally drive Jordan into retirement?

7. Michael Jordan vs. Kwame Brown
This was a lopsided feud, for sure -- we rarely, if ever, got to hear Kwame speak freely on matters between him and His Airness -- but what started out looking like a great mentor-student relationship on the court and in the locker room turned out to be a bash-Kwame fest for MJ.

Although Brown, the promising center who the Wizards picked first in the 2001 NBA draft, wasn't the only target of Jordan's DC disses, he may have been Jordan's worst victim. Sports Illustrated reported that "Jordan ritually reduced Brown to tears in front of the team."

By most reports, Kwame wasn't the only one who breathed a heavy sigh of relief when Jordan announced his third or fourth retirement last season. If you didn't play hoops MJ's way, it was the bench -- or the trading block -- for you.

8. Larry Johnson vs. Alonzo Mourning
Johnson and Mourning, Charlotte Hornets teammates from 1992 to 1995, never got along. Johnson taunted Mourning in 1992, showing him his NBA Rookie of the Year leather coat, and saying, "Hey, young fellow, if you play real hard you might get one of these jackets." All the Hornets who heard the quip laughed -- except Mourning.

And though the two top draft picks were supposed to bring greatness to the Hornets franchise, nothing of the sort happened, as their relationship deteriorated. Just before the 1995-96 season, Mourning demanded $13 million a year from the Hornets. They countered with $11.2 million. Mourning said no go, got traded to Miami, and Johnson thought that Mourning's selfishness cost the team.

The rivalry continued when they opposed each other in coming years, culminating in a fistfight during a Knicks-Heat playoff game in 1998. But when a kidney disease struck Mourning, Johnson made up, first asking Mourning, before a game, if he was OK, then going over and shaking his hand. He clearly missed the rivalry. Upon learning of Mourning's condition in the preseason, Johnson said, "I want him out there so I can whoop him. I don't want him to be sick. When we play Miami I'd rather have him out there."

9. Michael Westbrook vs. Stephen Davis
In late August, 1997, Redskins wide receiver Westbrook attacked his teammate during a training camp workout session. Neither wore pads or helmet, and local TV cameras picked up Westbrook's pounding of Davis on tape.

The bizarre blitz baffled both team members and the press, who for a while couldn't figure out why Westbrook lashed out. Apparently, Davis had called Westbrook a pejorative synonym for "homosexual."

The Redskins fined Westbrook $50,000, and he apologized to both Davis and teammates. Stephen Zucker, Westbrook's agent, eventually explained what happened: "There has been words between the two of them for the last two seasons. Michael had always walked away from it in the past. This time, he didn't walk away. It's unfortunate. Michael is really sorry about it. He plans on apologizing to everyone."

10. Marcus Williams vs. Bill Romanowski
When one teammate sues another, you know it's -- well, they're not teammates anymore. But this was another lopsided feud, started when Raiders henchman Romanowski broke Williams' eye socket during a preseason practice fight in August.

"It was a drill, and we got into it," Williams said. "He yells ... 'Don't push me' ... then I feel my helmet come off, then I got hit right after."

Within a day, Williams was on injured reserve, with a fractured left orbital bone. Two weeks after the incident, he still complained of dizziness, headaches, and blurred vision. Recently, the Raiders waived Williams, and Romanowski is out with multiple concussions.

But the battle may have just barely begun. Williams has filed a lawsuit against Romanowski in Alameda County Court. Romanowski apologized after the fight, saying, without a hint of irony, "I hold myself accountable." That was good enough for the Raiders, who suspended Romanowski for a single practice. Meanwhile, Williams, a marginal player, was deemed healthy enough to play when the Raiders waived him off injured reserve.

His agent, Lee Kolligian, demurred."I know Marcus' eye is still very tender, and he's still experiencing blurred vision. At this point, it's hard to believe that a guy with a sensitive eye and a broken orbital bone would be fit to play."

Stay tuned.

Also receiving votes:
Thurman Munson vs. Reggie Jackson
Tiki Barber vs. Michael Strahan
Ruben Patterson vs. Zach Randolph
Jim Bouton vs. Fred Talbot
Baltimore Ravens vs. Elvis Grbac