MIAMI (AP) – This is one repeat the Miami Heat didn’t want: a serious early season injury to Shaquille O’Neal.

The 13-time All-Star will undergo knee surgery and be sidelined four to six weeks, the Heat said Friday. O’Neal tore cartilage in his left knee Sunday against Houston, an injury originally diagnosed as a hyperextended knee.

Last season, O’Neal sprained his ankle in Miami’s home opener and missed the next 18 games. He sat out a total of 23 games, and the Heat went 10-13 without him before their postseason charge to the NBA title.

O’Neal missed Tuesday’s game, practiced Thursday and was expected to play Friday against the New York Knicks. But the Heat announced shortly before tipoff that he would undergo surgery, with the date to be determined.

O’Neal, 34, wore a sport coat and tie as he watched the game from the bench. He missed two games earlier in the season with a bruise to the knee and would miss 18 to 25 games if sidelined four to six weeks.

His latest injury, a flap tear in the articular cartilage, occurred when he collided with Chuck Hayes of Houston. Hayes is expected to miss up to two weeks with a bruised and hyperextended left knee.

The defending champion Heat have yet to put their entire starting lineup on the court together. Guard Jason Williams, returning from arthroscopic knee surgery July 21, played for the first time this season Friday.

O’Neal, who has averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in four games, was replaced in the starting lineup by Alonzo Mourning.

Team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick will perform the surgery on O’Neal, who can begin rehabiliation immediately afterward, the team said. The projected timetable for his recovery means he would return sometime from Dec. 23 to Jan. 7.

AP-ES-11-17-06 2022EST

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