NEW YORK, April 25 -- Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, who was selected to his first-ever NBA All-Star team this season, was named the winner of the 2001-02 NBA Most Improved Player Award. The award honors a player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.

O'Neal posted career-highs in points (19.0 ppg), rebounds (10.5 rpg), assists (1.6 apg), steals (.63 spg) and minutes (37.6 mpg) during the regular season and finished in the top ten in the NBA in rebounds and blocks (2.31 bpg). The 6-foot-11, 230-pound forward also led the Pacers in scoring, rebounds, blocks and minutes played, and finished fourth on the team in field goal percentage (.479). He recorded a career-high 38 points (15-20 FGA, 8-9 FTA) in a 109-103 win at Cleveland on December 22, 2001 and also posted career-highs in defensive rebounds (17 vs. Charlotte on January 25), assists (five vs. Orlando on March 5) and steals (five vs. N.J. on December 21) this season.

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Jermaine O'Neal set career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals this season.
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O'Neal received 52 of a possible 126 votes from a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Detroit's Ben Wallace, the 2001-02 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, finished second with 16 votes and Dallas' Steve Nash was third with nine votes.

Selected by Portland in the first round (17th overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft, O'Neal played four seasons with the Trail Blazers averaging 3.9 ppg and 3.1 rpg over 211 games. Prior to the 2000-01 season O'Neal was traded to Indiana with Joe Kleine for forward Dale Davis and has averaged 15.8 ppg and 10.1 rpg over two seasons with the Pacers. He improved his scoring average from 12.9 ppg last season to 19.0 ppg this season, increased his field goal shooting percentage from .465 to .479, and improved his free throw shooting by hitting a career-high .688 from the line.

The 126-member voting panel consisted of 39 national media members and three media members who cover the NBA regularly from each of the league's 29 teams. Attached are the voting results for this year's NBA Most Improved Player Award and the all-time list of winners.

Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana, 52
Ben Wallace, Detroit, 16
Steve Nash, Dallas, 9
Jerry Stackhouse , Detroit, 7
Brent Barry, Seattle SuperSonics, 6
Wally Szczerbiak, Minnesota Timberwolves, 5
Troy Hudson, Orlando Magic, 4
Michael Olowokandi, Los Angeles Clippers, 4
Kenyon Martin, New Jersey Nets, 3
Andre Miller, Cleveland Cavaliers, 3
Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks, 3
Desmond Mason, Seattle SuperSonics, 2
Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics, 2
Kenny Thomas, Houston Rockets, 2
Hidayet Turkoglu, Sacramento Kings, 2
Ricky Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers, 1
Todd MacCulloch, New Jersey Nets, 1
Bobby Jackson, Sacramento Kings, 1
Lee Nailon, Charlotte Hornets, 1
Wesley Person, Cleveland Cavaliers, 1
Jason Terry, Atlanta Hawks, 1

1985-86 Alvin Robertson, San Antonio
1986-87 Dale Ellis, Seattle
1987-88 Kevin Duckworth, Portland
1988-89 Kevin Johnson, Phoenix
1989-90 Rony Seikaly, Miami
1990-91 Scott Skiles, Orlando
1991-92 Pervis Ellison, Washington
1992-93 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Denver
1993-94 Don MacLean, Washington
1994-95 Dana Barros, Philadelphia
1995-96 Gheorghe Muresan, Washington
1996-97 Isaac Austin, Miami
1997-98 Alan Henderson, Atlanta
1998-99 Darrell Armstrong, Orlando
1999-00 Jalen Rose, Indiana
2000-01 Tracy McGrady, Orlando
2001-02 Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana