If arbitrator Roger Kaplan has his way, Jermaine O’Neal will be eligible to play in the Indiana Pacers’ game against Detroit on Christmas Day.
It is unclear, however, whether the NBA will recognize Kaplan’s authority to intervene on commissioner David Stern’s ruling.
(Jermaine. He’s a Ferrari, David Stern’s the Berlin Wall)
Kaplan ruled today that O’Neal’s suspension should be reduced from 25 to 15 games, which would make him eligible to play against the Pistons at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“We’re very pleased that Jermaine O’Neal will have the opportunity to play after tonight,” Billy Hunter, executive director of the union, said in a statement. “Although we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s conclusion to uphold the disciplines against Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Anthony Johnson, we respect the time and deliberations he put forth.”
Kaplan upheld the season-long suspension of Ron Artest and the 30-game suspension of Stephen Jackson.
O’Neal, Artest and Jackson were suspended for their part in the brawl at the end of the Pacers’ game at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 19.