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Irish Coffee: Celtics’ Jermaine O’Neal gets defensive

In the aftermath of his first double-double of the season, coming in his team’s fifth straight loss, Celtics [1] center Jermaine O’Neal [2] took his time inserting his jumbo diamond earrings and slipping into his brown leather jacket — back turned to the media gathered around his locker.

When O’Neal finally turned, he fielded the first question and took a long sip of water before addressing “so-called analysts” critical of his offensive production: “The people out there that’s wondering about production with me scoring, that’s not my role. My role has been given to me, and my role has been said to be a defender.”

Judging by the tone of his voice, the criticism has clearly irked O’Neal in recent days. The 15-year veteran no longer wants to be judged on his 13 previous seasons as a double-digit scorer, but rather on the new role Celtics coach Doc Rivers [3] has carved out for him: Namely, rebounding and defense. Coincidentally or not, JO picked one of his best offensive nights of the season (12 PTS, 5-11 FG) to voice his opinion.

His plea was more of a decree, and here’s the rest of O’Neal’s I-Got-A-Role Address.

For the record, according to MySynergySports.com, the roll man has taken 11 shots against O’Neal in pick-and-roll situations, scoring eight times (72.7 FG%). JO’s 1.64 blocks per game rank 13th among NBA blocked shot leaders, just 0.05 shy of DeMarcus Cousins [4] in 10th place. His 14.4 percent rebound rate is his highest since grabbing 15.5 percent of available boards during the tail end of his Pacers prime in 2007. And the NBA doesn’t maintain official charge stats, but O’Neal has been surprisingly good in that regard this season.

Nobody expects O’Neal to revert to the 20-point scorer he was for a six-season stretch in Indiana, but O’Neal’s 39.3 percent field-goal percentage is the lowest of his career. Away from the rim, where he’s shooting 59.1 percent, JO is making just 30.6 percent of his attempts. While his focus on defending/rebounding might limit his field goal attempts, that’s no excuse for poor shooting.

But that’s coming from a so-called analyst judging from behind a table.

(Have a question, concern or conception for the next Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach [5] on Twitter.)