Golden State Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal logged career appearance No. 1,000 in Friday's 103-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had a rather forgettable night, finishing with four points, two rebounds, two blocks and a whopping four turnovers in just 13 minutes.
Perhaps best known for his role in the Malice at the Palace, O'Neal hit the 1,000-game mark more than nine years after the ugly November 2004 incident between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. O'Neal, who served a 15-game suspension for punching a fan during the melee, probably never would have guessed that reaching 1,000 games would take so long.
The infamous game in Detroit marked his 527th career appearance, and O'Neal had recently turned 26 at the time. The 15-game suspension he was about to serve surely didn't help him, but its impact pales in comparison to the impact that injuries would subsequently have on the center's career.
Heading into 2004-05, O'Neal had reached the 70-game plateau in five consecutive seasons—he's since accomplished the feat just once, logging exactly 70 games for the 2009-10 Miami Heat. Stretching back to the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, O'Neal has played in just 437 out of a possible 707 regular-season games.
From a performance perspective, the one-time star center should have enough remaining to serve as a backup big man for at least another season or two. However, constant injury issues make him a long shot to reach game No. 1,100.
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