JO "Would Like to Retire as a Pacer"

No one could ever accuse Jermaine O’Neal of lacking confidence. In his latter years with the Pacers he was always positive, seeing himself just on the brink of returning to the in-the-MVP-discussion form he showcased in 2004. Some thought JO was wearing rose-colored glasses — and indeed, he never did return to form.

More so, 2004 and the subsequent injuries (that he always nobly battled back from it must be noted) and the max salary he continued to receive forever changed how many Indiana fans saw JO. When he was traded to Toronto, it marked an unfortunate end to what had been one of the more dominant — albeit short — stretches by any player to wear a Pacers jersey during the NBA era.

When the trade happened, many were legitimately happy to see him gone. Others just felt it was time for the team and most high-profile face of an era eventually marred by mischief — and worse — to part ways. But there were indeed many who wished he never left the blue and gold at all.

For those fans — and all Pacers fans with long enough memories really — this message Jermaine sent last night through Twitter will hopefully provide a flashback to the better times.

It’s also something that at least this Pacer fan would love to see.

Good luck with the rest of your career, #7. And, more importantly, good luck with everything after that.

Jermaine Oneal Celtics

Tags: Jermaine O'Neal

  • boombaby

    I agree. At the time of the trade, it was just time for JO and the Pacers to part ways. But his injuries (and his state of denial about their long-term effects) shouldn’t diminish the fact that he was easily one of the top 10 players in franchise history. Plus, he was a classy guy, with a lot of respect for what it meant to be a Pacer. I’ll never forget the time he pulled himself out of the game rather than break Reggie’s all-time single game scoring record.

  • Chris D.

    I liked him, but we expected too much of him in his final few years with us. I always say this in his defense: He was on the best team that ever wore blue and gold. Everyone remembers The Brawl, but no one recalls that they had just dismantled (humiliated!) the champs on their home floor. (That’s what led to Ben Wallace’s provocations and Ronnie’s counter-antics.) Anyhow, I never felt that JO or the team owed an apology to the fans so much as they did Reggie for squandering his last-best chance at a ring. Maybe fate will give JO a chance to wear the colors again.

  • janglesjr

    Who spiked Elton Brand’s Kool-Aid and why is Roy Hibbert holding a bottle of cyanide?

  • Aaron

    That’s a pretty classy thing to say. Who else would make a statement like that? Would Garnett say that about the Timberwolves, who took a chance on him before high school players were regularly jumping to the pros? Did Payton say that about the Sonics? I imagine it’d be a deal where JO would sign a 10 day contract with the Pacers in the offseason, then announce his retirement. For Pacer fans, it would be like old times, with him being under contract but not playing in a game (rimshot!).

    Seriously though, JO always was a good guy. I respected his work in the community and how he played hard on both ends of the court, when he was healthy. As far as his negatives, you can’t blame a guy for having bad knees or for taking the huge amount of cash the Pacers offered him. And don’t forget, he made it possible to draft Hibbert.

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