WALTHAM -- In meeting with the media on Wednesday, new Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal spoke about his former team, the Miami Heat, saying that he was aware that the plan was to reel in star free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh while also retaining Dwyane Wade. The Heat also wanted O'Neal back to team with the trio, but he instead took a two-year deal with the Celtics.
"I knew what they were trying to do, and I could have re-signed back with those guys, but it comes down to fit," O'Neal said. "It comes down to personalities and style of play, and Boston has all that for me. It was the most important choice that I've made in my career.
"It was the first time I actually had the opportunity to even be a free agent in about 14 years, so it was very difficult, but I just felt like over the next two years I needed to be somewhere where the focus is strictly about winning now, not worrying about chemistry, not worrying about anything, just about coming in and helping the team win and doing my part of being involved in something good."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge applauded the Heat for the job they've done, saying that though they still might make some more moves, the big pieces they've put in place already are substantial.
"It's pretty impressive," Ainge said. "They've put a terrific team together, but it doesn't even matter what they do. Obviously, they could make a little bit of a difference, but that the three guys that they've put together down there with Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, that's a pretty solid team."
Asked about the chemistry element that O'Neal referred to and how it might apply to the Heat, Ainge said: "Winning does amazing things to team chemistry."
For more on the Celtics, go to WEEI.com/Celtics.
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