Celtics center Shaquille O’Neal, who has been shut down with a sore right Achilles’ tendon since Feb. 1, spoke about his health and his impending return when he called into WEEI's "Mut and Merloni show" this afternoon.
"Getting better, getting better." the 39-year-old Shaq said when asked how he was feeling. "I can remember the time when I was 19 and I got hit by a car and five minutes later I'd be OK, it's just the older you get, it takes time to heal."
"[It's] getting better, getting stronger. Still a little pain. I've been instructed by the Big Three [Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen] and Doc [Rivers]: Come back when there's no pain."
O'Neal said it would be the Celtics call as to when he returns to the court.
"Me and Doc [are] from the same era," O'Neal said. "If it's not getting better, shoot it up, and let's go out and play but we're looking at the 18-25 thing here, so we want to do things right. The team's playing well, [backup center Nenad] Krstic is doing a fabulous job, and they want me at a thousand percent especially for the postseason because that's when it really counts." According to Shaq, "18-25" refers to the goal of winning the 18th NBA title for “the beautiful people of Boston,” plus a second championship for Doc Rivers and the group that won title No. 17, and "five for me."
When pressed to give a date for his return, Shaq would not commit to any timetable.
"I can't give you a date 'cause right now the little pain fluctuates," O'Neal said. "But I've been told by Doc and [trainer] Ed Lacerte, and Doc Hollywood [team physician] Brian McKeon that don't even come talk to him until I’m 100 percent. I’m working out every day in the locker room, shooting, just doing light stuff. But they said when that pain is gone then we're going to add three days onto that, and then you can come back."
Shaq also shared his thoughts on the trade of Kendrick Perkins. "I was training and I heard about the trade and it was kind of a sad ordeal," O'Neal said. "I got to really know a lot about him. I got to see his work ethic. I didn't realize that he was from Texas, and I'm from Texas. We just hung out on the road, talk strategies, talk shop all the time, and it was kind of sad. But this is the business of basketball. Because I always thought I always thought I was going to be an Orlando Magic player for my whole career, but you know, business kicks in."
The ubiquitous Boston celebrity also said he plans to visit an elderly complex in the North End of Boston on Monday night after residents wrote to him asking if he would come by.
"I get a lot of fan mail and an elderly person wants me to come by their place and hang out with them," O'Neal said. "I accepted. So I think I'll be doing that, having dinner with the elderly. ...I don't call them elderly. I'm having dinner with friends. I'm going to eat pizza, play bingo, and do some square dancing."
The Globe's Gary Washburn has more on Shaq who attended an event at the Boston’s Children’s Museum earlier this week.