Shaquille O’Neal’s book, “Shaq Uncut,” hits shelves Nov. 15, and the excerpts are already making the rounds. There’s the one about threatening to kill Kobe Bryant over a Jim Gray interview. Then, there’s the one about LeBron James getting away with murder in Cleveland.
But O’Neal also had a few untold stories from his short stint with the Celtics, including a YouTube video that cost Nate Robinson $20,000, some comments by President Obama that sent Rajon Rondo’s game into a spiral, and the time he wanted to punch Glen Davis in the face.
On the whole, he talks about the time he spent in green pretty favorably, with respect for Doc Rivers, Danny Ainge, and the Big Three and frustration for the injury that kept him sidelined for essentially all of the second half of the season.
The book was written with former Globe columnist Jackie MacMullan.
First, the video, which can still be seen on YouTube. It was all fun and games until Danny Ainge saw it. The lyrics to the Waka Flocka Flame song “Hard In Da Paint” were essentially pieced together one four-letter word at a time, which didn’t go over well with Ainge (neither did the sight of Kevin Garnett’s middle fingers). So he hit Robinson with the fine. Shaq took the blame.
That might have been my fault. When we were in training camp, I heard Danny talking to Nate and Glen Davis about tweeting. He was trying to tell them to be careful and to remember they were representing the Celtics and the team had certain guidelines they were going to expect them to follow. I’m listening to all this and I go up to Danny and say, “You know, everything you said is right, but you’re not speaking their language.” Danny is looking at me kind of funny and I said, “If you really want them to get the message you say this: ‘If you are irresponsible tweeting, I’m going to fine you twenty thousand dollars.’ They’ll understand that. The next day we have a “social media” session where this expert comes in and talks to us about tweeting and YouTube and all that stuff … You can tell Nate and Big Baby aren’t even listening. The next thing you know, Danny stands up and says, “Okay, let me make this clear. It will cost you twenty thousand bucks if there is profanity, nudity or bad language. Use the F word and it’s going to cost you.” I swear, it must have been four or five days later that we did that video.
He also added that Robinson’s attention-seeking nature was part of the reason coach Doc Rivers “never really warmed up to Nate.”
I wasn’t surprised at all when he got traded. Nate was always trying to get noticed by the public. He was always tweeting videos of himself punking his teammates … Some people are a little too focused on Twitter and Nate was one of them. He was too worried about how many followers he had. He kept saying, “Shaq, I need more people. Help me out.”
As much as he said he loved Rajon Rajon, he said the young guard “probably needs to meet his teammates halfway once in a while.”
Remember that stretch right after Perk got traded and Rondo was struggling so badly? He definitely was nicked up and fighting some injuries, but something else happened that I think affected him. In early March some of the guys went to the Museum of Fine Arts for a fundraiser and got to hang out with President Barack Obama. Everyone was a little bit in awe. The president turns to Ray, points to Rondo and says, “Hey Ray, why don’t you teach this kid how to shoot.” Everyone starts laughing, and Rays says, “Nah, that’s why he’s got to give the ball to me. I’ll take care of the shooting.”
KG told me he saw the look on Rondo’s face and the kid was devastated, embarrassed. Dissed by the president, even though I’m sure Obama didn’t mean any harm. Rondo smiled and went along with all of it, but KG told me he could sit it in his eyes. It bothered Rondo. It killed him.
On the West Coast swing in January, Shaq wanted to get off against the Lakers, but he said even though he was getting good position under the basket, Glen Davis wouldn’t pass him the ball.
“Big Baby” Davis kept looking me off and taking it himself. Doc is shouting at him to go inside, but he won’t. So Doc calls timeout and draws up a play for me. I go out there, and I back Andrew Bynum way under the rim. I’m loose, I’m ready. I’ve got Bynum under the basket and again, Baby won’t give me the ball. So I go up to him and say, “If you ever miss me again I’m going to punch you in the face.” I was hot.
Two nights later we’re playing in Sacramento and here we go again. I take three shots the entire game and again I’ve got my man isolated underneath the basket, and Baby ignores me and takes a jump shot. So the next time we’re in the huddle I let Baby have it.
I tell him, “Pass the [expletive] ball inside.” He comes back at me a little bit and now I’m really heated. All hell is breaking loose. We’re going back and forth. Doc is standing there and he’s not saying a word. The message is pretty clear: Work this out yourselves. I tell Baby, “You’re a selfish player. Everyone on this team knows it.” Hey, all the fans knew it. He takes shots when he shouldn’t.
Of course, along with Shaq-a-Claus, conducting the Pops, and posing like a statue in Harvard Square, the lasting memory of his time in Boston will be the Achilles injury that kept him from playing for most of the back half of the season.
I had been blamed so many times in so many places when things went wrong I didn’t want that to happen again. Not there. Not in Boston. I didn’t want it to be my fault if the Celtics lost. In fact, because I’ve turned into one of those conspiracy guys, I actually put my call with Danny on speakerphone so everyone who was there with me, including Danny Garcia, my massage therapist, and Nikki, my girlfriend, could hear me say, “I don’t know if I’m coming back, bro.”