Jermaine O’Neal used his Twitter page to notify Celtics nation of his plans to return before the regular season ends.
“To answer all of your questions,” he wrote, “yes I will be back for the playoffs! But to be honest I will be back before the regular season is over!”
So he should return shortly before the end of the regular season, meaning he might help in the playoffs? Then again, I quote O’Neal himself, speaking in January about why he did not want surgery in the first place.
“If you miss basically the rest of the season, there’s no way you can really help the team going into the playoffs,” O’Neal said. “There’s just no way because the team already has a nice rhythm, rotations [are] set — you don’t want to interrupt that. You can’t play your way back into rhythm in the playoffs because every game, every possession really counts. So I’m looking at it in that manner. I never want to be in that position.”
Ah. So he didn’t want surgery in the first place, because then he wouldn’t help at all in the playoffs. I see.
Let me now point you to a time frame beginning in early November:
November 8: Jermaine O’Neal hurts himself against the Dallas Mavericks, sitting out the game’s second half.
November 10: O’Neal is listed as day-to-day. Keep that “day-to-day” in mind. It will become funny.
November 11, morning: O’Neal “ponders sitting out the remainder of Boston’s four-game road trip.” Oh, it’s getting worse? We should have known.
November 11, evening: O’Neal seeks a second medical opinion after “a series of flare-ups” in his knee. “This is the third time it’s blown up on me,” he said, “so i have to do something.”
November 12: O’Neal skips the C’s trip to Memphis, to return to Boston. “This is the most swelling I’ve had since I tore my meniscus three or four years ago,” he said. So much for “day-to-day,” or “pondering sitting out the remainder of Boston’s four-game road trip.” This might take a while, the Celtics realize.
November 15: Peter May writes a report about Jermaine O’Neal, and the opening sentence reads, “The news on Jermaine O’Neal is not good.” He is now expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
November 29: Two weeks have now passed since O’Neal was supposed to miss 2-3 weeks. Needless to say, he still hasn’t returned to the court.
December 6: Three weeks have now passed since O’Neal was supposed to miss 2-3 weeks. Still no word.
December 18: More than a month after O’Neal was supposed to miss 2-3 weeks, O’Neal returns to practice. “It felt good to be out there, more than anything” he said. But “I didn’t expect anything, because when you expect too much, you’ll just be disappointed.” Remember those words, people. Words Jermaine O’Neal fans have to live by: “I didn’t expect anything, because when you expect too much, you’ll just be disappointed.”
December 22: O’Neal is “50-50″ to play against Philadelphia on December 23.
December 23: O’Neal does not play against Philadelphia, due to illness. “I think he’ll play next game,” says Doc Rivers. “Hopefully.”
December 25: Forty-five days after being considered “day-to-day”, and six weeks after being “2-3 weeks” away from a return, O’Neal finally returns to the court. He scores two points, grabs two rebounds, and fouls four opponents.
January 7: O’Neal misses the second half of a win against Toronto. This again, eh? “We had a lead, so we just looked at it and, if we could get him through this game and maybe play him tomorrow, it would be great,” said Doc Rivers.
January 8: Tomorrow comes. Jermaine O’Neal actually plays. Ineffectively, and only for twelve minutes, but he plays.
January 10: O’Neal plays, again. His tenth straight game played. The eleventh won’t come.
January 13: O’Neal discusses in-season surgery for the first time. “You don’t want to miss extended periods of time,” he said. “And for myself, I already did that.” Yes. Yes, you did.
January 14: O’Neal decides to decide his fate on January 18th. He will either have surgery, or he will elect not to have surgery and go through rehab. “Surgery is the worst-case scenario for me,” said O’Neal. “If it’s going to elevate me and get me out of this mode, then I’m all for it. If you can’t guarantee me that it’s going to get me out of this mode, then I’m not going to do it.”
January 18: O’Neal’s decision is delayed, after snow and ice push back O’Neal’s meeting with Danny Ainge and the Celtics’ doctors. The winter storm, I promise, won’t be the last setback he faces.
January 19: O’Neal decides against knee surgery. The timetable for his return is four weeks. “We’ll take the next four weeks to do nothing but work to build up his glutes and quads, with the sole purpose of that,” said Danny Ainge. “So he’ll be rehabbing to build strength in his leg to get ready for the end of the season.”
February 4: O’Neal decides to get surgery. “Last time we talked, Jermaine was not getting surgery,” said Ainge. “[But the knee] didn’t respond like we had hoped for the first four or five days of that.” Jermaine O’Neal’s body, not responding properly? Shocking. The new timetable is 6-8 weeks.
February 26: O’Neal claims, via Twitter, that he will return before the regular season ends. Do you see yet why I don’t exactly believe him?