There are many instances where players who once scuffled a bit became teammates. For the Celtics, a glaring example is when they traded for Kevin Garnett. The previous season, KG and Kendrick Perkins were involved in a nice trash talking match during a double-overtime game at the Garden where the Celtics pulled out the victory led by Delonte West's 35 points. Perk and KG got into it pretty good that game and eventually let bygones be bygones when they became teammates. Let's hope the same holds true for the two newest Celtic big men: The O'Neal brothers.
Back on March 27, 2006 when Jermaine O'Neal was still a member of the Indiana Pacers, and Shaq was still bringing his talents to South Beach, the two engaged in a scrum, which resulted in Shaq choking Jermaine. The entire thing started when Heat forward Udonis Haslem got tangled up in a rebounding battle with Jermaine O'Neal, and Shaq jumped in to break it up, choking Jermaine. Here is the description from ESPN.com's TrueHoop post at the time, which sites Chris Perkins of the Palm Beach Post:
As for the punishment, no doubt the NBA hasn't forgotten that Haslem was involved in a hot-button situation late in the regular season (which, interestingly, also involved his mouthpiece). The NBA, I believe, is intent on banishing any chance at every having another "Auburn Hills." As Chris Perkins tells it in the Palm Beach Post:
Haslem and Jermaine O'Neal got tangled up after Haslem grabbed a rebound under the Pacers' basket. With Haslem backing into O'Neal and O'Neal inadvertantly hooking Haslem, the two started glaring before Haslem lost his cool.
"He looked me in the eye and when you look me in the eye I look back,'' Haslem said. "It's cool to look somebody in the eye and chest you up in the middle of the court. Nobody is going to let you fight there.''
Haslem, with his mouthpiece dangling, started shouting and had to be restrained by Pacers assistant Chuck Person. Haslem said later he has not forgotten a play last season in which Jermaine O'Neal pulled down Haslem by the neck.
"I don't know when he became tough,'' Jermaine O'Neal said. "But all of a sudden he became tough. It's in his best interest to concentrate on getting a rebound and be quiet.''
Meanwhile, Shaquille O'Neal entered the scrum and had a chokehold on Jermaine O'Neal.
"I knew they were going to be in there scrapping to fight,'' Shaq said. "I just didn't want it to get into an ugly situation.''
Something the Pacers are as familiar with as any team in the league. With thoughts of Indiana's brawl with the Pistons 16 months ago likely racing through their minds, the capacity crowd reacted loudly and angrily, even more so when it was announced that Haslem was assessed an offensive foul in addition to both players being given technical fouls.
Haslem was not too pleased, either, and after arguing the call he was assessed a second technical, meaning an automatic ejection. On his way off the court, Haslem removed his jersey and tossed it back onto the floor.
Jermaine O'Neal remained calm during the scrum but started shouting at fans and motioning to the court after the players were separated. Jermaine was suspended 15 games last season for his part in the melee in Detroit, partly for charging a fan who had come onto the court and punching him in the face.
Unfortunately the video evidence is gone, but I'm willing to guess that neither of the O'Neals even remembers this incident. Something tells me this time around they'll both be brawling with Haslem and several members of the Heat this season.