Jermaine O'Neal interview
Boston Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal has had a terrific NBA career when he hasn't been hurt -- but unfortunately, injuries have hit him hard. Last season, O'Neal played just 24 games, averaging 5.4 points per game in limited minutes. In an exclusive interview with InsideHoops.com, O'Neal revealed today that the 2011-12 season -- assuming a resolution to the NBA lockout arrives so it gets played -- may be his last. O'Neal also discussed how happy he was to see Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and star Dirk Nowitzki win an NBA championship. This all from the Impact Training gym in Las Vegas, Nevada.
InsideHoops.com: Where do you stand in your NBA career these days? How much more time do you want to put in? And do you see for the Celtics next season?
Jermaine O'Neal: Hopefully we get an opportunity to play at the ultimate level, and that's in the NBA Finals, and winning the championship. This is probably my last year. I've been blessed to play 15 long years. And had a lot of great things happen. I have two little-ones that are getting older now. A 12-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy that I really want to spend more time with. And obviously you want to do what's best for your family and what's best for your livelyhood as far as the physical nature. You don't want to play too long. I had my second surgery last year on my knee. Sometimes you just have to know when to call it. Hopefully I have a full, successful year this year. And hopefully our team is able to win it. I know Danny [Ainge] is going to do whatever he needs to do to make the team better... I did everything else but win it, win a championship. I even played in a championship. So I'm looking forward to that.
InsideHoops.com: I feel like your Trail Blazers years were about four lifetimes ago. Portland feels like a distant memory.
O'Neal: It seems like it, man. It's funny because now I see all the young guys coming in, and guys are saying "I watched you when I was in fifth grade, and sixth grade." And I'm still here. I always tell guys, and especially young guys, It's a privilege to play this game, and to play it as long as I've been able to play. I feel very blessed about that.
InsideHoops.com: Did you watch the entire NBA Finals? What do you think of how it went down?
O'Neal: I watched a little of it. It's funny because I just left Miami, and I know Dirk [Nowitzki] very well. I know Rick [Carlisle] from the Indiana days. So I was happy for them. Obviously LeBron and them are going to have the opportunity to play for many more championships. But Dirk is a guy that's been in the league for a long time. And he's gotten criticized a lot in the past, and I think he answered in a huge way. And also, Rick Carlisle. He's a great coach, and he doesn't get the credit that some other coaches around the league get. Numbers don't lie. He's done it year in and year out, and I'm happy that they won.