|Celtics practice report: O’Neals pass first test||09.28.10 at 5:51 pm ET|
NEWPORT, R.I. — It was hot inside Rodgers Recreation Center at Salve Regina University Tuesday, where the Celtics held their first practice of the 2010-11 season.
“Way too warm, felt like the [Boston] Garden in the ’80s,” said Doc Rivers, who played in his share of summer playoff games vs. the Celtics during his years with the Hawks.
“It a little humid in here, a little warm,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who felt the players did a “pretty good” job dealing with the heat.
Rivers felt that the temperature inside the gym — best guess was somewhere in the low 90s — “didn’t help” the players during a three-plus hour session, but he wasn’t going to make excuses.
“I think that we’re not in great shape, personally,” said Rivers. “I don’t think that we’ve come back in the condition that we want. So we’re going to have to come back in better shape.”
— It was the first day as a member of the Celtics for both Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal. Rivers was pleased with the efforts of both.
“Shaq was great, actually. He looked fine,” said Rivers, who when asked about Jermaine O’Neal noted, “What did I see [from him]? He’s going to help us.
Both O’Neals were seen practicing with the first team [the media was allowed to watch the last 20 minutes or so of the session] but it was Shaquille O’Neal who spent some time with the second unit ‘ “The White Team” ‘ that also included Delonte West, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels.
“My game is real limited,” Shaq said when asked if he preferred to start or come off the bench. “I know to look for [Kevin] Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.
“I’m not going to be playing 30-40 minutes a game, just 20-30.”
Jermaine O’Neal didn’t seem concerned about the starter/reserve situation, either.
|Shaq Q&A: ‘Always knew Doc was a great coach’||at 4:27 pm ET|
Newport, R.I. — Shaquille O’Neal speaks maybe a half a notch above whisper. So it took my best Talia Shire to get through the rest of the media and pick up what I could from his (very brief) sit down with the press folks following his first practice with the Celtics Tuesday at Salve Regina University. Here’s what we got:
No chemistry problems with a new team?
“I’ve known a lot of these guys their whole career, spent a lot of time with them during the summer. Getting along with the guys won’t be a problem or a factor. I’ve known these guys since the first day they came into the NBA.”
Does it matter if you start or not at this point of your career?
“Nope, my game is real limited. I know to look for Garnett and to look for my shooters. I’ve always played with great big men and great shooters, so it’s no different.”
How about your first day with Doc Rivers as your head coach? About what you expected?
“I always knew Doc was a great coach, that’s why I called him this summer. I want to end my career with a players coach, I wanted to end my career with a team that’s going to win.”
Doc mentioned that some of the guys weren’t in the condition he had hoped. Is your fitness level a concern?
“I’m happy, I’m cool. There’s a difference between being in shape and in basketball shape. Remember, I’m not going to be playing 35-40 minutes a game, more like 20-25 minutes a game, and I could do that all day. I’m still putting in some extra work, doing some yoga at night so I’ll be ready.”
Just happy to be with this team?
“I’m very delighted for myself and my family. Going into my 19th year, breaking records every day and being different historical teams. I’ve had a very, very unorthodox and illustrious career. Unorthodox and illustrious — two big words in a row.”
|Paul Pierce on Doc Rivers’ return: ‘That was huge’||at 11:48 am ET|
“I think the most important thing was Doc coming back,” Pierce said. “That was huge. It would have been a tougher decision on me truthfully. It would have been a domino effect. If you had seen Doc leave, I honestly believe that we probably wouldn’t have re-signed Ray [Allen]. We probably wouldn’t have went after Shaq, re-signed Nate [Robinson]. We probably would have seen rebuilding here”
Pierce also acknowledged that he wouldn’t have wanted to be involved with another rebuilding effort at this point in his career.
|Shaq on D&C: ‘I would have played for free’ in Boston||at 8:49 am ET|
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.
A transcript is below. To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
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.
You’ve settled on the Big Shamrock?
Yes. The Big Shamrock. Yes.
|Celtics: Irish Coffee||at 7:35 am ET|
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.”
Nate Robinson hijinks
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.
|Meaner and leaner Shaq ready to do battle||09.27.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
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.
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.
|Nate Robinson on Twitter, his role and ‘Kazaam’||09.23.10 at 4:32 pm ET|
“Nate’s talking? That’s a news flash,” Doc Rivers quipped at the team’s annual golf fundraiser to support The Shamrock Foundation.
And Twitter is one of Robinson’s favorite places to chirp. He’s posted 79 tweets (@nate_robinson) since Monday, including what appeared to be his own telephone number followed by “text me NOW” last night.
That behavior made you wonder if Robinson was living up to his self-proclaimed nickname, Donkey, but it turns out that was a prank on one of his friends.
“That wasn’t my phone number,” explained Robinson, laughing. “That’s my friend’s number. … I don’t put up my information. I just joke around with my friends. Hopefully, none of my friends put my number up.”
When he first started Twitter, Robinson actually did post his personal phone number, accidentally, while attempting to send Quentin Richardson a private message.
“All of a sudden, I was like, ‘Why are all of these people calling my phone?'” he said. “It was pretty funny ‘ but never again.”
On Twitter, pretty much no topic is off limits for Robinson. He’s discussed everything from relationship advice to potential tattoos to nutrition tips.
“It takes time out of your day,” he said. “When you’re bored, you can go on Twitter, and by the time you’re done, three or four hours go by. It’s fun. You keep up with the world, I guess. I think it’s one of the best creations of the last two years.”
So, who does Robinson follow on Twitter? Other than his teammates, opponents and a slew of football players, his three favorites are rapper Fabolous (“He’s got a lot of interesting things to say”), boxer Floyd Mayweather (“he’s pretty funny”) and comedian Kevin Hart (“a lot of comedians are pretty funny, because it’s their job”).
Nate Robinson: On basketball
When he’s not tweeting, Robinson finds time to play a little basketball.
After seeing limited playing time for the Celtics following last season’s trade from New York, he had at least one breakout performance in each of the final three series of Boston’s playoff run, including the 12-point performance in Game 4 of the finals that led to the infamous “Shrek and Donkey” press conference.
Building off that momentum, the 5-foot-9 former University of Washington star hopes to contribute to this year’s team, in any way he can.
“I love the game of basketball,” he said. “That’s never going to change. For me to get a training camp in with the Celtics, that’s only going to help me out with knowing exactly what Doc wants from me, how to play and getting in where I fit in, which is me playing with energy. I don’t try to do too much. I’ve just got to play my game.”
Nothing is set in stone for Robinson this season, especially with the re-acquisition of Delonte West. They’ll be battling for playing time behind Rajon Rondo, but Rivers believes that Robinson’s participation in a Celtics training camp can only help.
“It’ll be important,” said Rivers. “It’ll help him understand what we’re running better, and it’ll help us understand him a little better as well. It’ll be good for both of us.”
Nate Robinson: On Shaq
Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal share adjacent lockers this season, and they’re getting to know each other ‘ perhaps a little too well.
“I’ve been a Shaq fan since I was a little boy, so I’ve been teasing him about all the movies he’s been in,” Robinson said. “He’s awesome. His locker is right next to mine, so it’s kind of cool. Every day, he comes in with these Superman pajamas. I’m kinda getting tired of those already, but he’s a real fun guy. He’s one of those guys who I can always tell my kids, ‘I played with one of the all-time greats.'”
Oddly, Shaq (@THE_REAL_SHAQ) doesn’t follow Robinson on Twitter yet. Maybe it’s all those digs about Shaq’s movie career, like, “Yo, my locker is right next to Kazaam” …