During Jermaine O’Neal’s two seasons with the Celtics, his body just wouldn’t work. He injured his knees. He injured his wrist. He couldn’t jump like he used to. He couldn’t score like he once did. He played just 24 games in his first year with the Cs, 25 in his second, and — after the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett broke the news today that J.O. will undergo season-ending surgery to repair his left wrist — he’ll probably never suit up for the Celtics again.
He may never suit up for any NBA team again, considering that his contract expires following this season and the last two seasons have put O’Neal through such a bumpy ride.
We know his body failed him, but is O’Neal tough? One hundred percent of you probably screamed “HELL NO!” at your computer screen, and I’ve surely made plenty “It’s windy out here, Jermaine O’Neal probably just broke a bone” jokes myself, but how many non-tough guys competed in the NBA playoffs with a broken wrist, taking charges despite the pain?
O’Neal’s tenure in Boston certainly fell short of expectations. He couldn’t stay on the court, and when he did play, he couldn’t provide the type of help Danny Ainge envisioned when he signed O’Neal to a two-year, $12 million contract. O’Neal came to Boston desperately wanting a championship and will leave without one. But don’t hate him. Hate his body, which simply couldn’t hold up. And I’m sure O’Neal hates that more than anyone else.