He Played Big On The Court But His Impact Off The Court Was Bigger

jermaine o neal smiling
Adé Hennis
May 23, 2023

Jermaine O’Neal had a great NBA career that spanned over 18 years, including multiple All-Star appearances and making the All-NBA team. There’s just one accolade that tends to go unnoticed.

O’Neal was involved in the infamous Malice at the Palace, an incident where multiple NBA players  were victims of assault by rowdy NBA fans. But instead of the fans being pegged as the villains in the incident, the players were instead.

O’Neal was suspended for 25 games for being involved in the Malice at the Palace. While other players involved just served their suspension, O’Neal chose to fight.

The NBA legend appealed the suspension,  and took the NBA to court. In 2004, a U.S. District Judge upheld an arbitrator's decision to reduce the suspension to 15 games, after the judge said O’Neal was acting in self defense. The court decision also changed how the NBA made suspension decisions for the future.

O’Neal stood up for his rights, even though he had money and fame. His actions made a change to NBA rules. We can draw inspiration from that and fight to make an everlasting impact for the future of Black lives when we see wrongdoing. Our rights are not a game.