Great article on JO’s history with the Pacers. This article is aimed towards Pacers fans, and to prepare for a goodbye (and perhaps a hello from Laker-land).
RealGM: It’s been a nice run. Jermaine O’Neal has spent two seasons as the face of the Indiana Pacers, even though he has been their best player for quite some time (Reggie would have remained the face of the team as long as he decided to play). He dealt with a lot of crap, and he did so professionally.
He endured the saga of Ron Artest for much longer than he should, and could have. But even with Artest gone, things got worse. While he was busy rehabbing and preparing for the season last fall, Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley were busy getting off on the wrong foot at an Indianapolis strip club. O’Neal is one of the game’s best players, although he’s not mentioned in the same sentence as some of the game’s best because of constant injuries.
The offseason has been littered with rumors about Indiana trading Jermaine, for a couple of reasons. The Pacers could look to unload him, and his huge contract, because the chances that he’ll opt out of his deal at the end of the season seem very likely. And Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh realize he doesn’t want to undergo another rebuilding phase. In 2004 he was so close to the NBA Finals that he could taste the Larry O’Brien trophy, he wants more.
And who can blame him?