“Writer’s block” isn’t even in my vocabulary. I have no idea what it means. I simply “pound the keys, damn it,” just like William Forester advised Jamal. My writing might not be great, but I can always hammer out words with the best of them. 600 or 700 words in 45 minutes? No problem. I just keep Forester-ing those computer keys, all day long. Writer’s block? Pshh, what’s that?
Then I tried writing about Jermaine O’Neal.
A full week after I began writing this post, I finally realized the problem with writing about Jermaine, the reason the freaking words wouldn’t flow like they normally do: At this point in his career, O’Neal is damn average. He has solid post moves, but he’s no Kevin McHale. He’s a good defender, but nobody’s going to confuse him for Bill Russell. His midrange jumper is smooth, but not like Kevin Garnett’s. He’s athletic, but his aerial skills won’t blow your socks off. He’s a big name, but not like his bash brother Shaq. He’s a legit rebounder, but, again, he’s no Russell. There’s nothing spectacular about Jermaine O’Neal, nothing to get too excited about.
Until you realize he might be the missing piece to the Celtics’ 18th championship.
Don’t be confused by his performance (if you can call it that) in last year’s playoffs; Jermaine O’Neal can still play. He’s not an All-Star anymore, but he’s no chump either. He’s a well-rounded player who can affect a game on both ends. And best of all, he’s already come to terms with his basketball mortality.
Wait, you ask, Jermaine O’Neal coming to terms with his basketball mortality is a good thing? Doesn’t that mean he’s past his prime? Yep. But it also means he no longer holds illusions of single-handedly carrying his team to a ring. Of All-NBA teams. Of the Hall of Fame. O’Neal has already been humbled.
Like the Big Three before him, O’Neal is coming to Boston at the right stage of his career. No more ego, no more desire to post big stats. O’Neal just wants to fit in and do whatever Doc Rivers needs him to, so that the two can help co-host a parade in Boston at the end of the season.
O’Neal with the Celtics is a marriage based in need, an easy match. The Celtics needed size, and they got it. They needed rebounding, and they got it. They needed a stable of big men to stop Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and they needed that same stable of big men to take advantage of Miami’s front court weakness. Done and done.
And O’Neal? He needs the Celtics to help him win his first ring.
Now all he needs to do is help them help him.