With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the Boston Celtics are gearing up for another extended postseason run. They are in a familiar place atop their division and Eastern Conference, but still have some work to do after acquiring several players via trades and signings, a few weeks ago. These trades have changed the dynamic of their team and addressed their injured frontcourt rotation by adding new talent and depth. By adding Troy Murphy and Nenad Krstic, that will allow their other injured big men, Jermaine O’Neal, Glen Davis, and Shaq enough time to heal and get back to normal playing speed.
Shaquille O’Neal has been shut down since the first week of February with a sore right Achilles’ tendon and he joined WEEI in Boston to talk about how he is feeling, what it was like when he found out about Kendrick Perkins being traded, and how difficult it is to bring in four new players at this point in the season.
How he is feeling:
“Getting better. You know I remember the time I was 19, I could get hit by a car and five minutes later I would be ok. It takes time to heal… Getting better, getting stronger, there is still a little pain. I have been instructed by the Big Three and Doc, and come back when there is no pain.”
Whether it is his call or the team’s call when he comes back to play:
“Their call. Me and Doc are from the same era, if it is not getting better, shoot it up, and lets go out there and play, but we are looking at the 1825 thing here so you know we want to do things right. The team is playing well. Krstic is doing a fabulous job, and they want me at 1000%, especially for the postseason because that is when it really counts.”
What it was like when he found out about Kendrick Perkins being traded:
“I mean I was training and I heard about the trade. It was kind of a sad ordeal. I got to know a lot about him, got to see his work ethic, did not realize he was from Texas. I am from Texas, we just hung out on the road, talk strategies, talk shop all the time, and you know it was kind of sad, but this is the business of basketball. I always thought I was going to be an Orlando Magic player my whole career, you know business kicks in.”
How difficult it is to bring in four new players at this point in the season:
“I want to say that it is difficult but it is not difficult because you brought in five consistent role players, guys that are used to being role players. Everybody knows that the Big Three get the first options and everybody else; we just have to do what we do. Jeff Green is very unselfish, Arroyo, Krstic is unselfish, so everybody is going to be playing off the Big Three, we know that. We just have to create a rhythm go with the rhythm and keep it going. We are looking good right now and we are going to be full strength here very soon. We know what is ahead. A lot of people play for championships, but for us, the city of Boston, it is something different, something that I call 1825. 18 for the beautiful people of Boston, 2 for Ray and Doc and Kevin, and 5 for me. It was also the same year that John Quincy Adams was inaugurated. He is a Massachusetts guy, you know for us, bigger than winning. It is bigger than that so.”
How has O’Neal been able to keep the mood light in the locker room?
“I like to put everything in business terminology. I’ve been a CEO and ran Fortune 500 corporations, so I know how to manage guys. Most of these guys are very serious. I consider myself a humorous leader. I’m working on my PhD right now, and I’m going be talking about humorous vs. aggressive leaders. I consider myself The Black Steve Jobs — very humorous and very educated. I just like to make it a little bit easy in the locker room. Kevin Garnett is a great player. He has his own ritual. I don’t really get into the ritual, but whenever I see that he’s down or being a little hard on himself, I’ll sneak in a little joke.”
How it is working with Jackie MacMullan on writing a book:
“It is working well. Jackie is very smart. She actually knew things that I forgot about. You know we are sitting at the house talking, we meet twice a week for three hours, she asks me questions and I have to dig into my old Shaqadex, ‘You know that was 13 years ago?’ But it is going to be a very exciting book, you know no-holds-barred, and it will probably be a book right before my exit.”
Tags: Big Three, Boston Celtics, hurt Achilles' tendon, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, KG, NBA Eastern Conference, NBA trades, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Shaq, Shaquille O'Neal, signed with Boston to try and win another championship, traded