(Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
BOSTON -- Speaking at his birthday celebration at the Boston Children's Museum, Shaquille O'Neal said today that he could be back on the court within a week and his sore right foot and Achilles tendon is improving.
O'Neal, who turned 39 Sunday, visited the museum and cut a mammoth green and white birthday cake before briefly speaking with reporters.
"Hopefully in the next week [I'll be back], they want me back at 100 percent," he said. "I tried to run on it the other day and it felt pretty good but I took a step back and I am going to get back out there in a few days. I don’t really feel like I’m 39."
O'Neal hasn't played since Feb. 1 and Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Sunday that trainer Ed Lacerte told him not to expect O'Neal back "any time soon."
The future Hall of Fame center said he would be in the lineup if it were the playoffs but team doctor Brian McKeon and Rivers won't allow him to take a cortisone shot and play.
"[Dr. McKeon] is going a great job, Ed Lacerte is doing a great job," he said. "I've been working on it, getting treatment. It will be all right."
The Celtics are depending on O'Neal to return and produce after they traded Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder. O'Neal said he has spoken with Perkins since the deal.
"Perkins has meant a lot to this city and he really helped them get No. 17 and we’re going to miss him," he said. "He was my main man. Everybody loves Perk. I love him. We became real good friends and I congratulated him on his new deal. But this is a business. He’s going to be missed. We had a great time this year being on the same team."