Celtics  center Shaquille O’Neal joined WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show this morning. He touched on everything from his health to eating pizza with the elderly — and everything in between.
You can hear the entire interview on WEEI.com right here . And here is the transcription:
How’s O’Neal’s Achilles (he hasn’t played since Feb. 1)?
‘It’s getting better. I can remember a time when I was 19, I’d get hit by a car and five minutes later I’d be Ok. The older you get, it takes time to heal. I’ve been getting better, a little stronger, but there’s still a little pain. I’ve been instructed by Doc [Rivers] and the Big Three to come back when there’s no pain. It’s their call. Doc and I are from the same era. If it’s not getting better, shoot it up and let’s go out and play. But we’re looking at the 1825 thing (see below) here, so we want to do things right. The team’s playing well. [Nenad] Krstic is doing a fabulous job. They want me 1,000 percent, especially for the postseason, because that’s when it really counts.’
How did O’Neal feel about the Kendrick Perkins  trade?
‘I was training, and I heard about the trade. It was kind of a sad ordeal. I got to know a lot about him and got to see his work ethic. I didn’t realize he was from Texas. I’m from Texas. We hung out on the road and got to talk strategies, talk shop and then business kicks in. He’s a very physical player — long arms, plays hard, not afraid of anybody, takes the elbow, gives them out, hard-nosed guy. We’re going to miss him. Boston’s going to miss him. He’s done a lot for the Boston community. He helped them get No. 17, and it’s been an honor to play with him.’
How difficult will it be to integrate the newest Celtics ?
‘It’s difficult, but it’s not difficult. You brought in five consistent role players — guys who are used to being role players. Everybody’s gonna be playing off the Big Three. We know that. We just have to create a rhythm and keep it going. We’re looking very good right now. We’re going to be full strength very soon, and then we know what’s at hand. A lot of people play for championships, but for us — for the city of Boston — it’s something different. Something I call 1825: 18 for the beautiful people of Boston, two for Ray [Allen] and Doc and Kevin [Garnett] and those guys, and five for me. It was also the year John Quincy Adams was inaugurated, and he was a Boston guy. So, for us, it’s bigger than winning.’
What has it been like for O’Neal to work with Jackie MacMullan on a book?
‘She knew things that I’d forgotten about. We were sitting at the house talking — we meet twice a week for three hours. She asks me questions, and I ‘ve got to dig in my old Shaqodex. I’m like, ‘That’s 13 years ago.’ It should be a very exciting book — no holds barred. ‘Tell-all’ wouldn’t be the correct term. ‘Truthful’ would be the better term.’
How does O’Neal feel about the Heat and the Crygate saga?
‘We don’t really speak upon other organizations. Those guys are probably going to go down as the most fabulous backcourt in history. We have our own issues here on the Boston team, so I’m not really paying attention to that. I’m not really at liberty to comment on that.’
What does O’Neal think of Rajon Rondo  as a teammate?
‘He’s a great player. Players like him only come around every six or seven years. This guy’s a pass-first player. A lot of young guys coming in want to put it through their legs, shoot all the shots and do all that. He’s different. Yeah, it’s a Big Four.’
How does O’Neal feel about a potential Superman matchup with Dwight Howard ?
‘We don’t have to figure out who the real one is. If you’re called Superman just for winning the dunk contest, then I don’t want to be called Superman. Give me another name. They have a dangerous team. If you double that guy, he gets the shooters involved. We have enough bigs that we can play him. I’m going to play him straight up, Jermaine [O’Neal]’s going to play him and then Krstic is going to play him. The only thing is, when you’re playing a guy like Dwight Howard, you also have to make him play defense. If he’s just playing offense, then they’re going to be hard to stop. He’s probably going to have to get 50 or 60 every time. Listen, I’ve played against [Patrick] Ewing and [Arvydas] Sabonas. No guy worries me, even at the young-old-ass age of 39.’
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.’
What is the next publicity stunt O’Neal is planning for Celtics fans?
‘I get a lot of fan mail, and an elderly person wants me to come by their place and hang out with him, so I accepted. Monday night, I’m having dinner with the elderly people [in the North End]. Actually, I don’t call them elderly people. I’m having dinner with my friends. We’re just going to eat some pizza, play some bingo, do some square dancing and have a good time.’
Can O’Neal nail down an exact date for his return?
‘I can’t give you a date, because right now the pain fluctuates. I’ve been told by Doc, [trainer] Ed Lacerte and [team physician] Brian McKeon to not even come talk until I’m 100 percent. I’m working out every day, shooting, doing light stuff, but they said when that pain is gone, we’re going to add three days onto that and then you can come back.’
If O’Neal had to put a percentage on his health, what would it be?
‘84.22711556644222 to the principle of the ninth Pythagorean theorem point two percent.’