Jermaine O’Neal was an anomaly when the Portland Path Blazers chosen him straight out of highschool with the seventeenth total choose within the 1996 NBA Draft.

O’Neal, together with Corridor of Famers Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, amongst others, have been among the many new wave of expertise leaping straight from highschool to the professionals. However O’Neal was the youngest of all of them.

On today in 1996, at simply 18 years and 53 days outdated, O’Neal made his NBA debut for the Blazers towards the Denver Nuggets, scoring his first skilled timeout factors within the win.

Younger O’Neal largely got here off the bench throughout his 4 years at Portland because the Blazers veteran emerged as one of many prime contenders within the Western Convention. O’Neal’s lack of enjoying time was a serious cause for the commerce on the finish of the 1999-00 season with the Indiana Pacers which introduced Dale Davis to Portland in a one-for-one commerce.

Whereas in Indiana, the potential Portland noticed in him as a 17-year-old in 1996 got here to fruition. O’Neal made six consecutive All-Star appearances for the Pacers from 2002 to 2007 and led the staff to 6 consecutive playoffs, together with a berth within the Jap Convention Finals in 2004.

On the finish of his NBA profession, O’Neal spent greater than half his life enjoying skilled basketball, retiring after 18 seasons within the league. He’s broadly thought to be the most effective facilities of his technology, and it began 26 years in the past at this time.

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