In an interview on WEE"s Mut & Merloni show, Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal disputed the rumor that he asked for a buyout to sign with Miami.
"I was a little bitter about it," O'Neal said. "To answer your question, it was totally not true. Me and Danny Ainge never had a conversation about a buyout, we never talked about anything else but the seriousness of my injury."
O'Neal said that a few days after he reinsured his wrist in Dallas on Feb. 20, doctors told him that he had to have surgery to repair what has been described as a chronic degenerative condition in his wrist. O'Neal originally tore ligaments in his wrist last season. The team announced on Monday that O'Neal will have surgery and miss the rest of the season.
"When [the doctor] said that to me, it made me extremely emotional because basketball has been so close to me since I was eight years old," O'Neal said. "For a doctor to say, 'You have to worry about things other things outside of basketball,' that was tough. To hear people talk about a buyout, and everybody's got their opinion about it, and they never heard it from me. They never heard it from Danny. We had a meeting the next day and we both were kind of blown away, because we didn't know where that came from."
O'Neal said he elected to not have surgery after the season because the timetable for recover would have been seven to eight months and could have ended his career.
"I wouldn't have been able to workout during the summer time, which furthermore probably would have ended my career," O'Neal said. "I would have never come into a season out of shape and not worked out during the summer time. This is an injury that has gotten worse now, from last year. It was never a thought abut playing for someone else, it was: Will I ever play again?"
O'Neal also said that he was going to sign with Dallas in the summer of 2010 before the Celtics called him and changed his mind with the goal of winning a championship. "Winning a championship is all I wanted to do," he said. "Not finishing the job to try to go somewhere else was not in my DNA."
He acknowledged that his two-year career with the Celtics has been frustrating due to his injuries, which also included knee surgery last season.
"Nobody ever expects to get injured and for sure nobody wants to be injured. It's been two very tough years," O'Neal said. "Especially coming off last year where I had a knee surgery and had three very tough procedures done in the knee and had to fight back like hell to get back for the end of the regular season and also the playoffs.
"So, basically I worked out through the summer and throughout the lockout and really put myself in a position to have a healthy season. That's really the most disappointing thing about this right now. I signed on to do a job and for the fist time in my career I wasn't able to finish."
For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics. To hear the whole interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
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