Shaquille O'Neal opens up on oft-clowned on Boston Celtics tenure

One of the NBA's greatest talents Shaquille O'Neal, a powerhouse in the paint, reflects on his less-than-stellar tenure wearing a Boston Celtics jersey.
Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers / Jeff Gross/GettyImages

Shaquille O'Neal, one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball, discussed his time with the Boston Celtics expressing his frustrations about the past -- and in his own words, how unimpressive it was relative to the rest of his career.

“Not being him. Him is 28 (points) and 10 (rebounds),” O’Neal told NBA analyst JJ Redick on “The Old Man & The Three” Podcast when asked about his time in Boston (h/t NESN). “(Expletive) averaged nine points in Boston. I felt like I was robbing the people. I felt so bad when they called me back and said, ‘Hey, man. We owe you $1.5 (million).’ I said, ‘(expletive) keep it.'”

"Robbing the people" due to a lack of performance and not taking the remaining money written in his name are reasons why O'Neal was highly favored by many—he was an absolute beast, having accountability for not succeeding the way he could.

Yes, he may have been a 38-year-old veteran, but his competitiveness never wavered.

O'Neal's greater days were playing alongside the late great Kobe Bryant as the two went on to win three straight NBA championships from 2000-2002. The "Big Aristotle" was known for bulldozing his opponents with brute strength, pushing them down to the ground, and chirping at an unmatched level, as seen below against Chris Dudley.

Shaquille O'Neal's Boston Celtics tenure has become social media meme

It must be hard for O'Neal to talk about his life in Boston, the team he ended his career with before jumping around from the Heat, Suns, and Cleveland. "The Diesel" did not have much pep in his step toward the end of his playing days (an understatement) as he accumulated only 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds through 20.3 minutes per game.

The dropoff in production has been jokingly used to describe players' careers as a form of "falling off" or "losing their touch." Carmelo Anthony is a great example, saying his time in a Houston Rockets jersey was like O'Neal's in Boston (h/t Courtside Buzz). Other non-basketball-related examples follow the same format: a once-great performer who is a shell of their former self.

"Big Baryshnikov" (yes, he has a ton of nicknames) ultimately feels bad about underperforming, but that should not take away from the legendary career he put up. He's still arguably one of the best centers to play in the NBA, if not the greatest.

Regardless of everything that went down, this does not define O'Neal's career by any means. It's a great example of "it happens to the best of them."