One of the most electrifying players from the ’90s is, without a doubt, Shawn Kemp, also knows as the ReignMan. His ability to dunk the ball was unparalleled and is widely recognized as one of the best dunkers in NBA history. Throughout those years, the Seattle Supersonics was a powerhouse on the west, and the backbone of that success was built on the dynamic duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.
Kemp entered the NBA as a 19-year-old, and the start of his career wasn’t easy at all. In a great interview with The Players Tribune, Kemp took a trip down the memory lane and remembered his first encounter with the infamous Detroit “Bad Boys” Pistons and especially Bill Laimbeer, who was one of the dirtiest players in NBA history.
The game took place in 1989, during Kemp’s rookie year, and the Detroit Pistons were at that time the NBA champions.
“It was 1989. I was coming off the bench as a rookie. The Bad Boys in Detroit were still in full effect and coming off their first championship. We had the Pistons one night, and it was early in the game. I got open down low and threw it down on Bill Laimbeer. Detroit called a timeout. I was feeling good. Running back to our huddle, I saw Laimbeer pointing at me.
“Is he pointing at me?”
He ain’t gonna be pointing at me. I just dunked on this guy.
So I point right back at him.
The scene that happened after that was something truly remarkable, and it proves the Detroit Pistons didn’t just talk the talk, they walked the walked. Kemp said the next thing he remembers is that he woke up in a hospital after a cheap shot from Laimbeer.
“The Bad Boys didn’t get that nickname just because they were good on defense. They were bad dudes. They’d hurt you. I had never really played basketball against guys like that. The timeout ended, we got a rebound, and on the other end, somebody passed it to me in the paint. Laimbeer was behind me. I don’t know what happened next. I woke up in the hospital.”
Kemp was one of many others who faced off the Bad Boys and got hurt intentionally; however, out of all the stories from those times, it seems he was the only one who ended up in a hospital after Laimbeer got a hold of him looking for revenge.