Jermaine O’Neal originally signed with the Boston Celtics with the intention of becoming the team’s starting center, knowing full well that the job description stressed defense, rebounds and blocked shots above all else. Two years later, after suffering through millions of injuries and failing to meet anyone’s expectations, O’Neal said his role with the Celtics was always less than desirable. The Tin Man wanted more touches on the block, even though he couldn’t stay healthy and missed most of his shot attempts even when he did. He wanted to be more of a focal point of the offense, he says now, even though he knew exactly what he signed up for when he joined Boston in the summer of 2010.
Doc Rivers, ever the gentleman, wished O’Neal the best in finding a team that will call his number more often. I’m not such a gentleman, so I’ll note that if O’Neal wants a bigger offensive role, he should look for an over-30 league. He should also pray every night for good health, since it’s difficult to score many points while forever missing games and pondering whether to undergo another season-ending surgery.
O’Neal complaining about his role is like Nicolas Cage complaining that he hasn’t won an Academy Award since 1996. No kidding you haven’t, Nicolas. Your acting sucks, bro. You hardly ever change your facial expression, whether you’re close to death or just heard the best news ever. You should just be happy you get millions of dollars to prance around as Ghost Rider. Honestly, turn the volume off sometime while watching a Nicolas Cage movie. After two minutes, you’ll swear he took five Novocaine shots to the face and no longer has the ability to express emotion in any fashion. As for Jermaine, he should just be happy he wasn’t charged criminally after stealing $12 million from the Celtics. To complain about his role is to forget that he hardly ever had any role, because he spent most of his time forging doctors notes to get out of games and practices. Even when he was healthy, he was just as likely to short-arm a four-footer as he was to score a bucket.
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here’s what O’Neal said, unprompted, about his role in Boston. (Boston Globe)
“The hardest thing for me was to not be able to do some of the things I have been quite comfortable doing all my life. I accepted the challenge. I accepted the role. [I didn’t want] 10 shots a game, but it was hard to be told not to worry about [scoring].”
“When I was asked about [offense], I tried to be as professional about it as possible but it’s hard,” he said. “You put any player in that position and ask them how that’s going to pan out for them; it’s hard mentally because you’re fighting against yourself every single day. And it’s not like you’re getting the reps, even in practice, because they’re going to stay away from that in practice because they don’t want you to start leaning towards that in games. It was really rough. The things that kept me going was the guys on that team, [team president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge and just the passion of that city. No one wants it to end the way it ended, but it did. I was never really healthy mentally.
“It took everything in my mind, body and soul to be professional about it. When that’s said to you in front of a team, it bothers you.”
I don’t have much more to add.
I’m just glad O’Neal isn’t Boston’s problem any more. Also, it would be nice to never feel compelled to write about him again.