In an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, new Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has made no less than $10 million in his last 14 NBA seasons and at least $20 million in his last nine campaigns, said that he had no problem taking a pay cut in excess of 90 percent in order to come to the Celtics. O’Neal signed a two-year deal for approximately $3 million this summer, and he suggested that money was virtually irrelevant in making his decision to join Boston.
“I had other options where the money would have been greater. But this franchise, this team, has a tradition of winning,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been one of the luckiest guys in the history of the game. I’ve had four max deals and one lifetime of play. So money wasn’t an issue. Money will never be an issue. But Danny Ainge had $1 million left, which was the minimum. If I had to, to come here and play, I would have played for free. Doesn’t matter to me.”
O’Neal — who said that he wanted to be called The Big Shamrock while with the Celtics — also discussed whether he will be able to “blend in” in Boston both on and off the court, his bucket list, his experience of last year’s Celtics-Cavaliers playoff series from Cleveland’s perspective and his feelings on Dwight Howard and LeBron James, among several other topics.
This is Shaquille O’Neal. Don’t mess with Dennis & Callahan, weekdays from 6-10 on the WEEI Sports Radio Network.
Skip the boring basketball questions. Is Boston big enough for your personality?
I always tell people that I was raised Karate Kid style. My father took me many places as a youngster. I started off in Northern New Jersey, born and raised. Went down south to Hinesville, Ga., then to West Germany, then to San Antonio, Tex. I say that to say that I can blend in anywhere.
You probably can’t blend in.
I can blend in. If people are looking for me in Boston, I’ll be in Sudbury. If you’re looking for the Big Shamrock, he’ll be in Sudbury, in the fields of Sudbury.
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Yesterday, the Celtics held their annual Media Day extravaganza, leading into today’s training camp kickoff. Check out the top five quotes that came out of a day that featured Shaq donning green for the first time …
Shaquille O’Neal on Kobe Bryant’s five rings: “Yeah, I heard it. My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guards. I’m only competing with Tim Duncan, so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”
Kevin Garnett on the 2010-11 season: “I’m really excited, really excited. I don’t like us, I love us. I like how we are, I like our depth, and I’m eager to start.”
Jermaine O’Neal on his new team: “I haven’t walked into a locker room where we talked about winning a championship and a championship only in a long time.”
On the bus ride down to training camp in Newport, Nate Robinson played a few pranks on his sleeping teammates–including Shaq, KG and Delonte–and he posted the pictures to prove it on his Twitter page. Funny stuff.
Antoine Walker’s unemployment
Just a fantastic piece on Antoine Walker by David Aldridge. It’s blunt. He cited one coach who called the former first-round pick “a bad guy in Boston.” Walker touched on his gambling problem and how a “terrible decision” to invest in Chicago real estate led to losses in the double-digit millions. He talked about how he’s had to shrink his inner-circle to a select few, which includes M.L. Carr. After ballooning to almost 300 pounds, Walker is back down to about 265 and looking for a job. So far, though, he’s been turned down by everybody, including the Heat, who he won a championship with in 2006.
“He is a long, long way from the Shimmy and the three All-Star appearances,” writes Aldridge, “and the days he and Paul Pierce were the Celtics’ future, and the day that he signed an extension in Boston that should have taken care of his family for life. There’s no buzz that I can detect that there’s a team interested, so Walker will wait and see if someone goes down during camp and a team needs a body. He wouldn’t mind a camp invite just so he can stay in shape, even if there’s not a real prospect of a job.
“And if it ends for him here? Well, he’s been poor before.”
Paul Pierce, the blogger
Pierce posted a blog on the Boston.com website yesterday. He described how meaningful his high school jersey retirement ceremony.
“Of all the things in my career,” he wrote, “going back to Inglewood High School and having my jersey retired this week in front of my family and friends and the people in my community who supported me from the beginning, was one of the most memorable.”
Considering his career includes an NBA title, that’s saying a lot.
Celtics Late Night Show
Listen to our own Paul Flannery on the Celtics Late Night Show by Gino’s Jungle. He touches on all things green, including Media Day, why fans will like Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq’s star quality, KG’s health, why Rajon Rondo doesn’t watch basketball and the addition of Lawrence Frank to the coaching staff.
WALTHAM — Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believes he enters the season with the most talented group he’s ever coached, with more depth than the 2008 team that won the NBA title.
“You could make the case the 2008 team had more talent because they were younger. Kevin [Garnett] was at the peak of his health at that point so that has changed just a little bit. We’re hoping that all the guys on the bench are as good as their names. We don’t know that, either.”
One thing Rivers does know is the “O’Neal Brothers” – as he labeled the unrelated Shaquille and Jermaine on Monday – gives the Celtics as much in size as name recognition and the two will fight for the starting center’s job while Kendrick Perkins rehabs his right knee.”
Rivers has Delonte West on the bench. He has Nate Robinson on the bench. He Marquis Daniels on the bench. No team north of Miami can bring the depth to the court that the Celtics will bring this season.
“But I like the group as far as talent,” Rivers added. “A lot of the guys we’ve added, they’ve won. They’ve done a lot of winning if they haven’t been the winner [of the NBA title] and they are tough. A lot of them are tough guys, and I think that is good for our team.”
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said Monday he believes Rivers is the “perfect coach” for the veteran group of superstars he’s assembled to make another run at the franchise’s 18th NBA title. Rivers, Ainge and the rest of the Celtics spoke at Media Day about how ready and primed this group is to make it back to the promised land.
“Yeah, we’ll see about that, that’s for sure,” Rivers laughed when told what Ainge said. “We have a lot of personalities, there’s no doubt about that, probably more than we’ve ever had. Having said that, I also think this is the most talented group we’ve had, as far as deep, on the bench.”
The Celtics are trying to get back to the NBA Finals again next June for the third time in four seasons and avenge their Game 7 loss last June to the Lakers. The Celtics lead the Lakers 17 titles to 16.
Rivers went back with his coaching staff in August and made them all watch just how close they were to No. 18.
“I don’t think you ever get over it,” Rivers said. “I made my staff watch it. We watched it together about a month ago. So, I don’t think you ever get over it. Whenever I see anything [involving Game 7], they always show the damn celebration and all that. That’s not anything I want to watch. Hell, I’m not over Game 7 Celtics-Atlanta Hawks , so I’m certainly not going to be over this.
“It does in some ways. It wants you to get it started again so you can get back there. So yeah, in that way it does. But other than that, you have to move forward. It has to push you a little bit. There’s no doubt.”
One thing Rivers did take from watching again was just how big a role the third-quarter injury to Paul Pierce played in the final devastating outcome.
“It’s easier to watch it the second time,” Rivers said. “It’s still emotional, it always will be. You watch it and you looked at all the opportunities you did have in that in that game. You saw some things you didn’t see. I didn’t realize the Paul injury was bigger, that little injury, was bigger than I thought it was during the game.
“I think [Celtics' lead] was 12 when he went out. It was only a three-minute period, but when he came back in it was four or six and that was the game. That was in the third quarter and I thought that was the turning point in the game. Nothing in the fourth quarter was different than what I saw. It was more the third quarter I thought changed the game.
In the wake of Game 7 in the locker room, Rivers also admitted Monday that he thought that was it for this group together under his direction.
“Yeah, because I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do at that time,” he said. “I knew Rasheed [Wallace] wasn’t coming back, he told me that before the game. I was, at that time, leaning heavily toward not coming back. Yeah, in the locker room I actually thought that was going to be the last time, at that point, that I would see all these guys together.
“And even if I did come back, I knew it wouldn’t be the same team. I knew we were going to have to make changes. I knew at that time, and no one else knew, the extent of Perk’s injury so I knew he wouldn’t be back until late in next year.”
But he does get another chance to prove – as Pierce believes – that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.
Just how many games can this group win this regular season?
“How many games we play, 82? Ok,” Rivers laughed.
Rivers would be just happy with 16 in the playoffs when it matters most.
WALTHAM — Shaquille O’Neal is a superstar who loves to talk about having 735 days left in his NBA career. He wants those days to include two more NBA titles, giving him six, which would mean he would have one more than Kobe Bryant.
But as O’Neal reminded everyone on Monday at Celtics media, this isn’t about him and Kobe, it’s about leaving the game on top.
The newest superstar member of the Celtics has given up his mom’s hamburgers, fried chicken, mac and cheese and cornbread muffins and is ripped and ready to go for his 18th season in the NBA, starting with Celtics media day on Monday.
O’Neal said he has been playing pickup games with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at the Celtics facility and swimming to get in shape.
The Shaq-Kobe war of words was re-ignited Monday when he recalled the words of Bryant in the moments after the Lakers beat the Celtics for their 17th title and his fifth. ‘That’s one more than Shaq.’
O’Neal had his response on Monday. It had less to do with Kobe and more to do with San Antonio’s Tim Duncan.
“Yeah I heard it,” O’Neal said. “My whole career I’ve been the measuring stick. Glad to see I’m still relevant. I would’ve been more upset, more hurt, if Tim Duncan would’ve made the comment. I don’t compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do. You can’t compete with guard. I’m only competing w/Tim Duncan so hopefully I can get No. 5 before Tim Duncan, respectfully before Tim Duncan.”
Duncan and O’Neal each have four NBA championship rings while Bryant and Derek Fisher lead active players with five.
It’s time again for your morning cup of Irish coffee. Following the referees’ annual meeting late last week, the NBA announced new guidelines for technical foul calls. Guyism explained all four new guidelines with some comical Rasheed Wallace footage, of course. The guidelines are as follows …
“Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court”
“Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone”
“Running directly at an official to complain about a call”
“Players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure”
These stricter rules could spell trouble for the Celtics, even without Rasheed. Kendrick Perkins (16), Kevin Garnett (6), Paul Pierce (5) and Rajon Rondo (4) all finished in the top 50 for technical fouls last season. Based on the above descriptions, Perk might be eligible for a technical foul roughly every time he hears a whistle. Heck, he might even get a handful of techs before he comes back from the knee injury.
The Reclamation of Delonte West
Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie has an interesting take on Delonte West‘s return to the Celtics. He believes this C’s team could be just what the doctor ordered for West, who has suffered from mental issues throughout his career.
“So even with the nonguaranteed contract, you would hope that the Celtics are in it for the long haul, and not for some guy to take a chance on because Tony Allen followed the money to Memphis,” writes Dwyer. “Because this really could be the first season of the rest of Delonte’s life, in 2010-11, as their supportive environment and steady work could be the best possible thing for West as he tries to move forward.”
NBADL Rule Change
The NBA and NBA Development League have reached a deal that allows as many as three players cut from an NBA roster to be assigned to their D-League affiliate. So, the Celtics could potentially store training camp invitees Chris Johnson, Stephane Lasme and Jamar Smith in Maine with the Red Claws (Did Jackie Moon play for them?). I’m sure all four Red Claws fans are drooling at the opportunity to watch Stephane Lasme all winter. Tickets must be flying off the shelves.
Perfect Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce spoke to the media on Saturday following a fitness rally for his charities, The Truth on Health and FitClub34. After a “perfect” summer, he’s excited to chase another title.
“I’ve been in the gym for the last couple of weeks and I’ve probably seen everybody,” Pierce told the Herald. “I’ve been comparing this to the last couple of years. It’s like a new energy with Shaq, Jermaine. You can just kind of feel it around the practice facility–just the energy, the vibe of the guys in the locker room–that we left something behind last year and that’s the trophy.”
Energy isn’t the first word that comes to mind when I think of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal (“The O’Neal brothers,” as Doc Rivers has dubbed them).
Shhhhhh! You’ll wake Bill Russell!
I’m not exactly sure why I found this so funny, but I did. Hats off to GrahamSpector.tumblr.com for that.
Lafayette was a longshot to make the roster with Rajon Rondo, Nate Robinson and possibly rookie Avery Bradley slotted ahead of him, but no doubt he would have liked the opportunity to compete.
Lafayette played well during the Orlando summer league and looks like a player who can stick on an NBA roster in the right circumstances. He also performed well with Fort Wayne in the D-League, averaging over 17 points and six assists per game.
The move leaves the Celtics with 16 players on their training camp, and it seems likely they will add a few more. Competition for roster spots will be fierce, however, because the C’s have 13 players on guaranteed contracts.
That leaves Delonte West, Von Wafer and Tony Gaffney fighting for two spots. Danny Ainge spoke enthusiastically about West before the team’s annual charitable golf outing. West is facing a 10-game suspension to start the season, so it’s possible that Wafer, or another veteran, could serve as insurance until he is able to return.
Marilyn Monroe. Princess Diana. Brian Scalabrine. Three of the most tragic losses of the past 50 years. Elton John memorialized Norma Jeane in his classic ballad “Candle in the Wind,” then re-recorded the tune following Lady Di’s death. Now? The Rocket Man has re-re-recorded the song to pay tribute to Scal’s free-agent departure to the Chicago Bulls …
Goodbye old friend Scal
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to warm the bench
While those around you played
They sat you in your warmups
As the crowd was chanting your name
They kept you on the treadmill
Until the end of the game
And it seems to me you lived your life As the last man on the pine Never knowing if they’ll play you When you’re up twenty nine And I would have liked to have known you But I was just a fan Your contract ran out long before Your legend ever can
Benchwarming was tough
The toughest role you ever played
The Garden created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you left
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Scalabrine signed with the Bulls
Goodbye old friend Scal
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to warm the bench
While those around you played
Goodbye old friend Scal
From the young man in the upper balcony
Who sees you as something more than abysmal
More than just Brian Scalabrine