View Full Version : Q and A with JO (Star)

01-21-2008, 12:29 AM
Worst' season really bothers O'Neal

By Mike Wells

Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, who has dealt with constant injuries the past three-plus seasons, told The Star that he may sit out the rest of the season to let his ailing left knee completely heal.

O'Neal is having his worst season since 2000-01, his first with the Pacers. O'Neal, who can opt out of the final two years of his contract at the end of the season, sat down with The Star after practice Sunday to discuss his frustrating season.

Q: How do you feel about your latest setback?

A: Over the last two years I've dealt with the knee situation. I tore the meniscus and last year I played, obviously, more than I should have. That took an effect.
Knowing I was going to have surgery over the summer made me feel better about the situation. The fact of the matter of it is, since the surgery I haven't recovered. I shouldn't have started camp when I started, which was the first day.
It was more that we have a new coach, a new style, (and) I wanted to be out there. Saying this, me coming back early, was nobody else's fault but mine. When you go through some of the tougher years that we've been through, you want to be out there and giving something.
My teammates feel like it's important for me to take the time necessary to see if I can get back to 100 percent.

Q: What would happen if you tried to continue to play on your knee?

A: If I continue to play, it can not only be detrimental to me getting back to the level I'm used to playing or beyond that. The four, five, six years I have left in my career, (it) could really affect that. . . . (Playing at) 60 percent may be causing me to shorten my career and beyond that.
It could have a major effect on my health. From all the painkillers, the injections, being able to walk. I walk with a limp now at 29 years old because the knee is so irritated in so many different areas.
It's something that we feel like, if I totally rehab, it can get better. Playing is something I obviously want to do, but it's not in the cards right now. It's frustrating.

Q: What have you done to help the problems with your knee?

A: I've come to the conclusion that I don't want any more injections. I don't want to take any more pain relievers every day anymore. Even if I wanted to play right now, I couldn't play because I wouldn't be cleared to play.
This has become more of an issue to me than just basketball and I understand it's such a tough predicament. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaching staff and the fans because I know it's important for me to be out there. In order for me to have a shot on getting back to a respectable level that I'm use to playing at, I have to take time off.

Q: How do you think this setback will affect your future with the team? Your name has been brought up in trade rumors in the past and will likely continue to be brought up.

A: This is a very difficult time, not only for myself, but for the team and organization because when you look at the future of a team. If they want to make a move to move me or make a move on bringing more pieces on the team with me.
Whatever it is as far as the future it affects everybody because if you don't know where I'm at health-wise, you can't go out and send me anywhere because nobody is going to take me.
I want the fans to understand, if I play again this year, (it would be ) absolutely great, but anything right now is based on my future.

Q: You can opt out the final two years of your contract at the end of your season. Have you thought about what you want to do?

A: I haven't thought about it. Conversations with doctors now is about what I need to do to have a really good finish to my career.
At 29, that's really hard to accept, talking about what you need to do to finish your career at a high level. It's not like I'm three, four years out of being an All-Star. This was just last year. To come in and have a very average, subpar year based off my ability to move and jump has been tough.

Q: How tough has it been on you that you're only a shade of your former self?

A: This is the most unenjoyable year that I've had ever in my life of playing basketball. When you know you can't move and cut and jump and do the things you normally do because you're in pain, that affects emotionally how you play in a game.
Taking the nine pain relievers a day has affected me in such a major way, to the point that I had to take a test to see how my liver is holding up. The pain I played with has been extraordinary.
Either way this organization decides to go in the future, what I'm doing now is necessary for my career, for my livelihood after basketball and for this team. I want to be able to play sports with my kids.

Q: What have your peers around the league told you?

A: Everybody is saying the same thing: Step away and do the things necessary to get better. I don't want to get to a situation where I have to stop playing early in my career because my knee is so banged up.
The doctors feel that I can get back. I just can't run and play because it's wearing the knee down.
People that know me know I want to play and play at a certain level.
I promise you, everybody I talked to said they watched me play this year and I just don't look the same. It's been emotionally, mentally, physically . . . a dog year.

Q: Has there been any talk about having surgery again?

A: That's the blessing of everything that has happened; I don't need any more surgery. The knee is just not strong enough to play.
Everything is about resting the knee and getting all the swelling out of the knee and then strengthening it to where it was before I actually tore the meniscus.


01-21-2008, 12:39 AM
Anybody care to go find the articles where he talked about how he was finally completely healthy and his knee was 100%?

I had to take a test to see how my liver is holding up.

Considering there are tons of drugs that you have to have blood screenings for side effects, I'm not that sympathetic.

nobody is going to take me.


01-21-2008, 12:52 AM
It is sad, what has happened to his career - but I fear it is basically over

01-21-2008, 12:58 AM
It is sad, what has happened to hios career - but I fear it is basically over

I'm the biggest pessimist that ever walked the face of the earth. Even I don't think his career is over...but then again I kept thinking Bender would recover. :shrug:

01-21-2008, 01:12 AM
Anybody care to go find the articles where he talked about how he was finally completely healthy and his knee was 100%?


On that theme... From Conrad Brunner of Pacers.com prior to the season:

A. This is me talking just about my physical standpoint, but I feel really excited about my chances this year to get back to being dominant, to really being considered in that top five again. That's where I want to be. I've trained really hard this summer. It started off slow because obviously when you have surgery you have to go through that rough time but, man, I've hired a skills coach, Jerry Powell, who has an academy in New York and has worked with Al Harrington on his ballhandling and one-on-one skills, and he's tough.

I really have trained this year to dominate. I really have. I'm swimming, and I've never swum in my professional career. I'm boxing, which is something I've tried but didn't sit well, but I've really taken it to hear to accomplish that particular skill. We're shooting a lot of jumpers. We're doing a lot of ballhandling stuff. You'll be surprised. I've always tinkered with shooting threes but if you were to go out and watch me shoot threes right now, you'd be like, 'wow.' We make up to 100 threes a day, and we shoot them every day. We shoot a lot of mid-range and we do a lot of stuff off the dribble.

For the first time in my career, I'm taking vitamins. I'm on a strict diet with no fried foods. I'm here every single day. I'm making sure every small thing that gets sore is getting treated.

I'm excited. I think the coaches are excited. I had a long conversation with Coach O'Brien and he's a change of speed for us. I like his demeanor, I like his attitude, I like his persona, I like everything about him. Obviously, he hasn't coached me yet but the consensus of the guys that have been here is that we like him. He demands that the team be a certain way and he won't accept less. Not to say anything bad about Rick (Carlisle) because I thought Rick was a pretty good coach but sometimes a change of speed is good for a team. Obviously, Rick was put in a difficult situation with so many off-the-court issues but it's almost like a new life around here, as players and coaches. I think everybody looks at this year as doing a new year and we're going to do our best to win as many games as possible.

And on a semi-related theme (from the same piece):

Q. You've said for the past few years, when the discussion has turned to running more, that there's a perception that style would not fit you well. But haven't you always welcomed the idea because it would allow you to better exploit your athleticism?

A. The biggest misconception about me running is that we have played in a very structured system over the last four years. When we take the ball out, the first thing we do is look over to the sideline for the play. You cannot run and there's no need to run if they're calling every play. And I was always designated to take the ball out. So when I get downcourt, everybody's already there. Those are two significant things.

If we run more, the defense can't set up on me. If we walk the ball down and run set plays, it's easier to guard me, it's easier to beat up on me, to double- and triple-team me. I don't want to be in that position. I want to be in the position where we can get easy transition points. Our fast-break points were so low last year it was unbelievable. If we can get 18 to 20 points a game off transition, that'd be great. That'd be big for us.

01-21-2008, 01:55 AM
For everything I have ever said about Jermaine O'Neal, and I have said a lot, I have never once doubted his desire to be on the floor and to play at a top level.

On a purely emotional level, I feel very sorry for Jermaine as he is now facing down the truth that he is past the midway point of his career.

My belief is that if he thought for even one min. he could play, even at a decreased capacity, he would.

I hope for his sake he understands that his future is on the line here and actually takes the time to heal.

If we can get it together with a good pick and a few new players who knows, maybe he can come back next year and be a big part of our team.

01-21-2008, 06:49 AM
A thought just crossed my mind. (we all know there is no way he will opt out of his contract) I wonder if he would accept a buyout (assuming the pacers would be willing to do that) that way the Pacers get rid of him and that would allow JO to sign with another team for a reasonable contract and a team where he could be a part-time player. I'm talking about this summer

01-21-2008, 08:29 AM
If we can't trade JO for anything worthwile than a buyout could be a solution. But what would you give the dude?
With all the games he has missed the past years (and also counting the games he played when more than half-injured) I wouldn't give him more than 10m total for the remaining 2 years.

Tom White
01-21-2008, 08:58 AM
It is interesting timing that this article comes out right on the heels of the trade rumor articles out of NJ and NY.

I'm not saying it was intentional on the part of the team or JO. I'm just saying that the timing of this article very quickly shoots a big hole in the speculation created by the other two pieces.

01-21-2008, 11:44 AM
If we can't trade JO for anything worthwile than a buyout could be a solution. But what would you give the dude?
With all the games he has missed the past years (and also counting the games he played when more than half-injured) I wouldn't give him more than 10m total for the remaining 2 years.

Seeing as how we owe him more than $44 million for those two years, I'm guessing his agent will laugh at someone offering less than a quarter of that.

01-21-2008, 12:53 PM
This sucks.. . We all know Jermaine, and what he's capable of. If he takes the rest of the year off. I hope he comes back strong, with or without the Pacers.

This is just giving reporters more reason to BASH Jermaine. It's fun to bash him while he's down, I guess.

Atleast his "last game" of the season was a memorable one against Golden State where he played his heart out. If anyone has that game digitally recorded can you talk to me, I'd like to get that game on DVD or something concrete thanks!!!

01-21-2008, 01:03 PM
JO takes a year off, we completely blow the rest of the season, we actually get the number 1 draft pick, who joins with a fully healed JO next year and we become the next Spurs.

Then I wake up.

01-21-2008, 01:07 PM
I don't understand how we would suck? We still got Foster. It's not like we need J.O's scoring, our team just has to play better defense and hustle a lot more. The way Diener is playing, and Graham looking promising, our team could still suprise a lot of people

Will Galen
01-21-2008, 01:28 PM
This doesn't bother me at all. I agree with those saying this is the best thing for everyone.

One, there are always rumors concerning JO around this time of year.

Two, NJ wasn't going to do a JO trade the way we read the deal in the media. Most or you overlooked the fact that that deal would have had NJ paying the luxury tax. Thus that deal would have cost them nearly three million dollars, beyond just the trade. So it wasn't going to happen.

Three, does anyone remember JO in his last game? He played 9:02 and had 4 turnovers. He couldn't even catch the ball. The man is really hurting. This is best for him if he really does it. I think the only way he comes back this year is if we hang on and get a playoff spot. Who knows if that will happen or not.

Four, this means JO isn't going to opt out of the final 2 years of his contract. Those who were hoping he would, and those who thought there was a chance he would, need to get some more cards for their deck. This is good news not bad, now the Pacers will either have a healthy O'Neal, or they will be able to get something for him.

Five, if we sink in the standings, so what? Do you really think we were going someplace this year? Remember how the Spurs got Duncan after David Robinson had to set out a year? There's no way I think we will be that lucky in the draft, but contrary to popular belief, lightning does strike twice. Hopefully we can get struck once . . .

01-21-2008, 03:52 PM
I hope that Jermaine can recover and get close to what he was. I really would love to see him be able to finish his career strong. The way Reggie was able to finish his career was pretty cool. He wasn't the go to guy, the leading scorer but he was a starter and had plenty left in the tank to help a contending team. I'd love to see Jermaine be able to go out like that.

But I just think he will never be able to recover. Taking the rest of the year off is probably the best thing he can do but I just think he will probably never being close to what he was.