The Golden State Warriors traveled to Canada on Sunday to face the Toronto Raptors, ultimately suffering a 104-98 loss to the resurgent Raps. While the Warriors moved to a somewhat disappointing 36-24 on the 2013-14 NBA season, the loss wasn’t without a bit of weird circumstance either.
In his pregame news conference, head coach Mark Jackson told the media that veteran center Jermaine O’Neal did not make the trip with the team. However, the reasoning wasn’t because of an injury or behavioral concern. Jackson announced that the issue was, in fact, with O’Neal’s passport, which the team was unable to provide. Jackson simply said that the team “dropped the ball” concerning the center’s passport.
Jackson couldn’t definitively say what happened to O’Neal’s passport, only speculating that it had either been lost or stolen. Whatever the actual reason for the strange instance is, though, the center wasn’t on the floor, which caused the Warriors to have to play more small-ball than they would have liked to on the night, even with Andrew Bogut back healthy.
Through injuries in his 18th season in the league, O’Neal has appeared in 26 games this season and has averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and one block in 20.8 minutes per game. Moreover, O’Neal was key for the Warriors when Bogut was forced to miss time and will be key down the stretch and in the postseason coming off of the bench.
Obviously losing passport isn’t something that’s going to regularly keep a player out of the lineup and O’Neal is expected to be with the team for their next game. However, Golden State has to be hoping that nothing else peculiar comes along as they try to improve their positioning for the postseason.