The newest Celtic, Jermaine O’Neal called into the Dale & Holley show to field some questions on what it’s like to be a Celtic now, what happened to him in the playoffs last season, what he expects his new role to be and the impact of Doc Rivers and Ray Allen on him choosing Boston.
“That was something I was really interested in being involved with, that same nucleus they had last year and if they didn’t have it, then I don’t think they would have been as strong as they were last year,” O’Neal said.
“If [Doc] didn’t come back, it definitely wouldn’t even be an option. Ray coming back was the next question that I was asking Danny, were they going to try to re-sign him. They told me yes and I said, ‘OK, let’s try to get this deal done and let’s start preparing to get this deal done next year.’ ”
Below are highlights of the interview. To listen to the complete interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
On coming to Boston:
Yeah, it’s going to be fun. I’m excited about it and my family is excited about it. I’m coming down the stretch run of my career and I can’t think of a better way of ending it than with a championship ring.
On why he chose the Celtics:
I told myself coming into the summer that it wasn’t going to be about any money situations. God has been good to me and my family and He’s blessed us in so many different ways. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes as players we take for granted that winning is certain. Obviously over the past three, four, or five years, that hasn’t happened [for me].
That hasn’t happened and I’ve been spoiled early in my career with Indiana where we had those really good teams and it was a really sad thing that it was going to happen consistently over [the course of] my career and whatever reason things happened, the business changed, the teams change and injuries happen and sometimes you find yourself on the outside looking in. Looking at those championship celebrations with confetti and champagne and hats, that’s something I haven’t been able to experience in my career and I told myself, I talked with my family and my wife and kids, we wanted to put ourselves in the best position to win next year.
I could have gotten long term deals for much more money, but it was about playing with a team that is just that, a team. A team that plays together, plays hard, just has the passion. The organization has the passion obviously, the city has the passion. I couldn’t think of a better place to play.
On Rajon Rondo selling the Celtics to him:
It’s funny because I’m not really interested in [phone] numbers I don’t know, and I just happened to answer the number that particular day and we had an extensive conversation and he really sold it. I said as a competitor playing against the Celtics over the years, I’ve admired what they’ve put together. I admire what the fans brought to the gym every night. I like what they’ve put together and what he said really was what I was looking for and it was more of about what they expected to do this upcoming season, what they expect from me, what they would expect from an organizational standpoint.
It went from Boston being with Dallas and Denver, those were the top three teams that were heading the list, to being the top team on the list. I was basically told in that conversation about other things. Keep in mind that he doesn’t really talk a lot, but I couldn’t really tell by the conversation because he led the conversation and he was really passionate about their focus and their plan to win a championship this year. (more…)