Jermaine O’Neal has likely played his last game as a Celtic and potentially the last one of his NBA career, announcing late last week he had elected to undergo season ending surgery. Last night, he tried to do some damage control on his image amongst Celtics fans, talking to multiple beat reporters about his decision to undergo surgery, and perhaps most importantly deny rumors that he had asked or planned to ask for a buyout to potentially join the Heat.
As expected, there are a number of good tidbits from each of these pieces, so here’s a collection of highlights from them, while recommending you check all three of them individually as well for better perspective. My question for you guys is simply….do you buy it?
From the Boston Herald on the timetable of the surgery:
“And just to be clear on this, the day after I did it, all the doctors told me I needed surgery right away,” he said. “I was sent home to a hand specialist and a couple of other doctors, and they all agreed together that surgery was what I needed, but I didn’t want to make that decision, because I felt like I still had a job to do. I came to the Celtics to win and compete for a championship. I didn’t want to make an emotional decision. I knew that the ligament in my wrist was completely torn, which is what happened last year taking the charge. I didn’t know how much worse it had gotten until we took pictures of it again and it was significantly worse. I started growing spurs, which made it really painful. Almost everything I did caused swelling. It also began to cause severe arthritis in my left hand. That’s where the conversation became more about the quality of life.”
From The Boston Globe on the decision and buyout rumors:“It was just a tough decision because I don’t think you guys understand how hard I worked from the knee surgery (last season) to get back,” he said. “I wanted to come back there and really play at a high level. It was quite emotional for me, I am not going to lie to you. I told the team when I got back from Dallas (where he sustained the injury) that I needed some time. I tried to do everything I could do to come back and the wrist didn’t respond. That’s what really bothered me about (rumors of me) going to Miami. (Team president) Danny (Ainge) never talked about that. It’s crazy that even came up any way. If I am not physically able to play for the Celtics, then why would Miami want me? Why would they want to sign me? That’s what bothered me the most because this is real to me.”
“That’s something that needs to be cleared up,” [O'Neal] said. “I never asked Danny. I never spoke to Danny – quote me on this – about a buyout. Danny has never spoken to me about a buyout. Our conversation has always been strictly with [team trainer] Ed Lacerte and our doctors about my health and my ability to come back. “
O’Neal added, “He said to the media that we were going to have a conversation, and we both had the same question for each other, ‘Where does this stuff come from?’ My concern and his concern was my ability to get back on the court. And if I couldn’t, then I couldn’t. He has supported me in such a way that . . . me and my family appreciate that.”
Strong words from the big man that will likely put to bed any further bad blood from most fans. Now the C’s turn to filling the void at two big man spots off the bench now, something we will have more on here at CelticsHub later this afternoon.