We still haven’t seen much out of Jermaine O’Neal this preseason, but that should change tonight. In Shaq’s absence (hips/rest), Jermaine will start tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers. He sounded like a player still getting used to his new role after playing only seven minutes in his season debut Sunday night. (Boston Globe)
“Of course, coming off missing a week and missing two games, you want to play more, but I think the biggest thing here – and I have to remind myself – is that when I signed here that’s the sacrifice that I have to make,” O’Neal said. “It’s going to be games where you might not play as many minutes as you want. And you’ve got to not let your competitive nature be a hindrance to the team. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a long 82-game season. Things happen. And just keep my mind on one goal.”
The weird thing about O’Neal reminding himself that there are “going to be games where you might not play as many minutes as you want” is that it was trainer Ed Lacerte, not Doc Rivers, who limited the big fella’s minutes. Rivers’s only goal with O’Neal is to get him ready for opening night against the Heat. “We’re just going to keep adding minutes to him, and he’ll be ready by the first game,” Rivers said.
Even in limited time against the Raptors, O’Neal showed why he was signed by Boston.
“We didn’t bring Jermaine in here to be a great offensive player,” Rivers told the Globe. “I mean he’s going to get what he gets. We brought him in here to be a great defensive player and I think that’s what he’s going to be. That’s why we went out and got him. He’s always been a great weak-side shot-blocker and a weak-side help defender. That’s one of the stronger points to our defense, so we thought it would be a natural fit.”
So far, so good. The three-headed center monster of Shaq, Jermaine and Semih looks like a nice offseason haul. Of course, even my grandmother (who, at the age of 90 has now shrunk to about 4’2″ tall) would look like a nice haul if she were playing the likes of Joey Dorsey, Trent Plaisted, Andrea Bargnani and Spencer Hawes.
Jordan Somewhat Disses Kobe
In what many people will see as a diss, Michael Jordan discussed Kobe Bryant’s spot among the NBA’s legends.
“I think he is always going to be within the conversations of some of the greatest players who’ve played by the time he is finished,” Jordan told USA Today. Where’s the diss, you ask? Don’t worry, it’s coming. “Where does he rank among those, if you are talking about positions? If you are talking about guards, I would say he has got to be in the Top 10.”
Being called a Top 10 guard, for most people, would be ginormous praise. For Kobe, it’s a little insulting. Almost anyone, after Kobe’s five titles, would now be forced to put him in the Top 10 players, regardless of position. I’d bet anything that Jordan, too, believes Kobe’s better than just a Top 10 guard. And Kobe, whether Jordan likes it or not, is the closest thing to His Airness the game has ever seen. I’m not saying he’s as great as Jordan, he’s not, but Kobe — from his physique, to his skill set, to his uber-competitive nature, to the coach who led him to all his titles — resembles Jordan more than any other human being ever has.
If I had to guess, Jordan’s statement was his subtle way of saying, “Guys, don’t ever compare Kobe Bryant to me. He isn’t, has never, and will never be on my level.” Even in his retirement, Jordan remains the most competitive person to ever shoot a jumper. He’s heard the comparisons people make, and he doesn’t want to hear that nonsense any more. Calling Kobe a Top 10 guard was his way of dismissing the comparisons without directly addressing them.
Heat behind Celtics
The Miami Heat took the high road yesterday, saying they’re still behind the Boston Celtics. (ESPN’s Heat Index)
“Boston, Orlando and the Lakers are going to be ahead of us,” LeBron James said Monday, something he’s said as a bit of deflection of expectation since the first day of camp — but now it comes with more sincerity.
“We’re a little behind those teams.” …
“We’re still behind,” Udonis Haslem said. “Our goals that we set is to be the best but right now we’re behind Boston and Orlando.”
I once told my girlfriend she looked great, even though her hair looked like a tornado had run through it, she was vomiting everywhere, and sweat dripped from every pore on her body. That didn’t mean I meant it. The Heat think they’re the NBA’s best team, regardless of what they say.