If there were a list of the best NBA players to make the jump from High School to the pros, Jermaine O’Neal would have to be included. During his 18-year NBA career, O’Neal was a six time all-star averaging 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Unlike some of the great High School to pro players such as LeBron James, Kevin Garnett or Moses Malone, O’Neal never won a championship, though he had the chance to, last playing with the Golden State Warriors during the 2013-2014 season.
In a recent Sports Illustrated piece, O’Neal revealed that after calling it quits, the Warriors franchise reached out to him during the 2014-2015 season, telling him that can rejoin the team if he chooses to. He turned down the opportunity, opting instead to spend time with his kids. The Warriors went on to win the NBA Championship and O’Neal says that his decision haunted him.
As he continued to beat himself up about it, O’Neal shared that it was his 15-year-old daughter Asjia who helped him get over it. After seeing how upset her father was, she sent him a text which read:
Dad, you being home is like you being a champion.
That text message is what put things into perspective for the 37-year-old.
It made me so emotional. When she wrote the text, how much it meant to her, to get that, it cleared everything up. All the emotions I had, missing out on the championship. That did it, and I knew right away that my time was over.