Phoenix Suns center Jermaine O’Neal is going through one heck of an emotional roller-coaster this season. O’Neal dealt with the passing of his aunt earlier this season which caused him to miss five-games and now O’Neal will be stepping away from the Suns indefinitely as his thirteen-year old daughter Asjia will be undergoing open heart surgery tomorrow to repair a leaky heart valve.
It’s been reported that O’Neal will be out at least three-games but he could miss more games depending on his daughter’s condition.
“It was close,” O’Neal said, according to azcentral.com. “I wasn’t playing this year for money. I just wanted to come in, enjoy basketball and try to help these young guys. I felt selfish, like, ‘What am I doing? I have the money I have, the businesses I have, the family. Why am I still running around trying to play basketball?’ ”
O’Neal has been a great veteran presence in the locker room this season with Steve Nash and Grant Hill now in Los Angeles. Not only has O’Neal been a positive influence in the locker room but also on the court. O’Neal’s 18.09 PER(Player efficiency rating) is the highest on the Suns and in the last five games O’Neal is averaging 11.8 points, 8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in roughly 22 minutes of game action on average.
With O’Neal out, Hamed Haddadi may receive O’Neal’s minutes, or perhaps Lindsey Hunter will elect to go small with the Morris twins playing the four and five spot. The Suns are set to take on the Toronto Raptors tomorrow night, Sacramento Kings on Friday, and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
Thoughts and prayers from all of us at Sun-N-Gun go out to Jermaine O’Neal, his daughter Asjia and his family during this rough time.