Jermaine O'Neal

From Academic Kids

Jermaine O'Neal (born October 13, 1978 in Columbia, South Carolina) is an American NBA basketball player who currently plays for the Indiana Pacers.

O'Neal declared his eligibility for the NBA Draft straight out of high school in 1996 and was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 17th pick of the first round. In Portland, O'Neal spent most of his time coming off of the bench, averaging around four points per game.

During the 2000 offseason, O'Neal was traded to the Indiana Pacers with Joe Kleine for Dale Davis. At Indiana, O'Neal was named a starter and became a standout player, averaging 12.9 points in his first season, three times more than any season he had at Portland. His averages continued to improve in the following seasons. In the 2001-02 season, O'Neal averaged 19.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game on the way to winning the NBA Most Improved Player Award. He also earned his first NBA All-Star Game selection and his first All-NBA Team selection, being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

In the 2002-03 season, O'Neal continued to improve and became one of only three NBA players to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He was selected to start in the NBA All-Star Game and was again selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

By the 2003-04 season, O'Neal was averaging 20.1 points and 10 rebounds per game, leading the Pacers to the best record in the NBA, earning an All-NBA Second Team selection and placing third in MVP balloting. In the playoffs, he helped lead the Pacers to an Eastern Conference finals appearance against the Detroit Pistons. However, he was ineffective because of injury, and the Pacers lost to the Pistons in six games.

He was a member of the U.S.A. men's basketball team that finished a disappointing sixth place in the 2002 World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis. Though he helped the U.S. team qualify for the Olympics during the 2003 Tournament of the Americas and was a member of the 'core group' for the Olympics, a knee injury forced him to drop out of the national team that competed in the 2004 Olympics.

O'Neal has been called a poster child for so-called prep-to-pro players, for his patience and determination to become a star player in the NBA. He has also evolved into the role of team leader for the Pacers and will be counted on to try and lead them to the NBA Finals. On November 19, 2004 however, O'Neal became involved in a massive brawl at the end of a game against Detroit, and was filmed striking a Pistons supporter on the basketball court. As a result, O'Neal was suspended indefinitely by Commissioner David Stern while the NBA investigated the incident. On November 21, O'Neal received a 25-game suspension for his part in the brawl. However, thanks to the urging of an arbitrator in just before Christmas, Jermaine won a 10-game reduction in his sentence and has since returned to action with the Pacers.

O'Neal scored a career-high 55 points in Indiana's 116-99 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on January 4 2005. He also volunteered to donate $1,000 to the victims of 2004's deadly tsunamis for every point he scored in the January 6 game against San Antonio, as part of a joint donation by the SFX Agency. He scored 32 points against the Spurs in a losing effort, but decided instead to donate $55,000 based on the strength of his earlier game against the O'Neal


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