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JO and Muldoon: 30 Years of Heat

Jermaine O’Neal and Matt Geiger are featured in today’s countdown.

Matt Geiger

50. Matt Geiger

Matt Geiger was born in Salem, MA on September 10th, 1969, and grew into a 7' center in Countryside High in Clearwater, FL. Initially, he attended college in Auburn, and played for the Tigers for two seasons. As a sophomore, he averaged 16 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He transferred to the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets for the 1990-91 season, and played another two seasons. During his senior season, his fraternal twin, Mark Geiger, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease. In support of his brother, Matt wore his head shaved through his entire NBA career.

Miami picked Geiger with a second round pick they recieved from the Los Angeles Lakers in return for not selecting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the expansion draft, with the 42nd overall pick in the 1992 draft.

As a rookie in 1992-93, Geiger started twice at center, appearing 46 times off the bench. He shot 52.4% from the floor in 11.5 minutes per game with 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds. Miami went 19-29 with Geiger in the rotation, he finished in double digits six times. On November 27th, he scored 14 points and seven rebounds in a loss to the Houston Rockets, 101-93. On December 8th, he scored a season high 18 points with five rebounds in a 126-112 Heat win over the Dallas Mavericks. The Heat missed out on the playoffs with a 36-46 record.

Geiger appeared 72 games off the bench for the Heat in 1993-94, playing 16.7 minutes per game. He shot a career high 57.4% from the field and scored 7.2 points with 4.2 rebounds per appearance. He scored 10 or more points 17 times with four double doubles as the Heat racked up a 37-35 record with him in the game. In a 114-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets on November 27th, he scored 15 points with 13 rebounds in 35 minutes. On January 8th, he sunk nine-of-15 shots, scoring a season high 23 points with 11 rebounds in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, 109-90. He scored 22 points with 14 rebounds just four days later, in a 100-92 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Miami clinched the eighth seed by one game, finishing the season, 42-40. Miami lost the opening series to the Atlanta Hawks, three-games-to-two. Geiger scored one point with four rebounds in 11 minutes of action over two games.

Geiger increased all of his cumulative based statistics in 1994-95, scoring 8.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He played 23.1 minutes per game, starting in 43 of his 74 appearances and shooting 53.6% overall. He accumulated 11 double doubles, scored 10 or more points 25 times, and helped the Heat to a 29-45 record in his presence. In a 117-113 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on January 4th, he shot eight-of-10 field goals for 16 points, adding 10 rebounds and three blocks. On February 3rd, he scored 21 points with 12 rebounds and three blocks as Miami defeated the Washington Bullets, 105-95. The Heat finished well out of the playoff hunt, at 32-50.

Starting in 1995-96, Geiger spent two seasons with the Hornets (127 games), joining the Philadelphia 76ers for four seasons afterward (154 games) before knee injuries forced his retirement in 2002. He is currently a real estate investor in Tarpon Springs, FL.

Stat Line: 194 games, 17.9 minutes, .548 field goals, .706 free throws, 7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.5 steals, 14.1 PER, 8.4 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 1003.5

49. Jermaine O’Neal

Jermaine O'Neal, born on October 13th, 1978, is a 6'11" center from Columbia, SC. He was drafted right out of Eau Claire High School in the first round of the 1996 draft by the Portland TrailBlazers with the 17th overall pick.

O'Neal played four seasons with Portland (211 games). He was used sparingly as he learned the professional game, averaging just under a quarter per game with four points and three rebounds. He then joined the Indiana Pacers for eight seasons (514 games), earning six all-star selections with 19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks per game. He started out the 2008-09 with the Toronto Raptors (41 games). On February 13th, the Raptors traded him with Jamario Moon and two draft picks (Da'Sean Butler and Jonas Valanciunas) to the Heat for Marcus Banks, Shawn Marion, and cash.

O'Neal joined Miami's rotation with two seasons left on his seven year, $126,588,000 contract. Miami would ultimately be responsible for $44,388,000. He started in each of his 27 appearances in South Beach to close out the season, shooting at a 47.5% clip in 30 minutes per game. He scored 13 points with 5.4 rebounds, two assists and two blocks averaged over each contest. Miami went 13-14 with him in the lineup. He finished 21 times in double figures with two double doubles. On February 21st, in a 97-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, he shot eight-for-12, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds in 35 minutes. He shot 10-for-19, scoring 28 points with eight rebounds and five blocks in 48 minutes of a 140-129, three overtime win over the Utah Jazz. Miami earned the fifth seed with a 43-39 record. They lost in the opening round in seven games to the Atlanta Hawks. O'Neal ranked a distant second (to Dwyane Wade, 29.1) in scoring, with a 13.3 points per game average over six games.

2009-10 would see O'Neal shoot at a career best 52.9% from the floor, playing 28.4 minutes per game. In 70 games (all starts), he scored 13.6 points with 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. He scored 10 or more points on 54 occasions with 14 double doubles. He helped Miami to a 37-33 record in his starts. In a 95-91 setback at the hands of the Chicago Bulls on February 6th, he scored 24 points with 16 rebounds in 37 minutes. February 19th would see him score 18 points with nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in a 100-87 win over the Memphis Grizzles. On March 25th, he shot nine-of-14 for 24 points, with four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a win over the Bulls, 103-74. The Heat improved to 47-35, but still earned a fifth seed. Miami dropped the opening best-of-seven series in five games to the Boston Celtics. O'Neal shot just nine-for-44 (20.5%) with 28 rebounds in 23 minutes per game.

O'Neal signed on with the Celtics for two seasons starting in 2010-11 (49 games), joining the Phoenix Suns in 2012-13 (55 games) and with the Golden State Warriors in 2013-14 (44 games). He has not officially retired from playing.

Stat Line: 97 games, 28.9 minutes, .513 field goals, .728 free throws, 13.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.5 assists, 17.2 PER, 6.7 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 1025.8

How do you feel about who Miami’s top 50 all-time ballers should be? As I write this, Heat Nation has decided that Jermaine O’Neal is #34 and Matt Geiger ranks 42nd.