To every sports icon, including Jermaine O’Neal in the NBA, the jersey number seems to mean a lot, especially when they have shared memorable times with the team. This is why most sports teams retire iconic numbers.
However, Jermaine O’Neal wished for this gesture from the Indiana Pacers as well and as it didn’t happen, he expressed his displeasure over the Pacers handing his jersey number to another player after the wonderful eight seasons he shared with them.
Pacers legend Jermaine O’Neal felt disappointed
The Indiana Pacers were blessed with several great basketball players on their team, including Jermaine O’Neal, who was the team’s All-Star center in his best years. Many fans remember him as a part of the Indiana squad that missed a chance to compete for a championship due to a fight with the Detroit Pistons, and some fans.
Jermaine became a star for the Pacers after he was traded from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000. He wore the No. 7 jersey for eight seasons and became an All-Star six times with the team. The Pacers recently announced on Twitter that Buddy Hield, who played for Indiana in the last two seasons, will also wear Jermaine’s No. 7.
This action from the Pacers, however, angered O’Neal, as he made an Instagram post saying, ‘I love Buddy and the work that he puts in. My statement has nothing to do with him. It is disappointing to watch teams every year recognize and celebrate the players who have been the franchise’s very best on and off the court, but yet the Pacers don’t. It’s been confusing and disappointing, to say the least!’
However, Buddy Hield won’t be the first player to wear No. 7 after O’Neal. Al Jefferson wore it in the 2016-17 season, Malcolm Brogdon for three seasons from 2019 to 2022, and George Hill in the 2022-23 season. The decision to retire this iconic number rests with the Indiana Pacers.
Buddy Hield gets Jermaine O’Neal’s iconic No.7 jersey
The Indiana Pacers have only retired the jersey numbers of four players in their history. Reggie Miller was the most recent player to receive this honor back in 2006. O’Neal, who conducted himself admirably during his time in Indiana, believes that the Pacers should enhance their relationship with former players.
Nevertheless, the Pacers have officially announced that Buddy will now wear jersey number 7, a decision that holds great significance for O’Neal. The decision was posted in a tweet with the caption, ‘Buddy Hield is changing his number.’
Buddy Hield, a former first-round draft pick in 2016, joined the Pacers in 2022 and has chosen to switch from jersey number 24 to 7. Hield previously wore number 24 with the Pelicans, Kings, and even during his first season with Indiana. During his college career at Oklahoma, he also proudly wore the number 7 jersey and established himself as one of the nation’s top players.
Jermaine O’Neal, who averages almost 19 points a game throughout his spell with the team, believed his iconic no 7 would be retired to complement his contribution during his 8-year spell. What is your take on this story? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.