Updated Oct 10, 2012 - 2:11 pm
Jermaine O'Neal: 'I feel really good'
A six-time All-Star who averaged 20.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game from 2001-2007, the 17th-overall selection in the 1996 draft has had a very productive career.
It's a career many felt was near its end due to wear and tear and injuries, but the new Suns center disagrees with that idea.
"I felt a little bit run down the last few years, but I had a fantastic summer," O'Neal told Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo Wednesday. "Really kind of changed the body, changed the mindset.
"And I feel really good and that's the reason why I chose to come to Phoenix."
O'Neal said the reputation of Phoenix's training staff also played a role in his decision to join the Suns, and while he doesn't enter his 17th season with the same expectations and fanfare as in the past, he is confident he has plenty to offer.
Some may think differently.
O'Neal is coming off a pair of seasons in Boston that saw his scoring average dip from 13.6 in 2009-10 with the Heat to 5.4 and 5.0 with the Celtics.
The center looked more like a washed-up player than someone who was ready to make an impact. He's looking to prove that's not the case.
"I think sometimes, as athletes, we don't really keep it as honest as we should," O'Neal said. "We don't want to look into the mirror sometimes and evaluate where we're at.
Instead, O'Neal said he's playing "for respect for myself," that it does not matter what others are saying about him or his basketball skills.
So, he set out to get himself healthy and ready to play, making sure he gives himself the best possible chance to show he's still got it.
He also thinks leaving Beantown will help.
"If it doesn't go right then I know it's time," he said. "I just felt like the last two years in Boston I wasn't necessarily as happy. It wasn't a great fit for me, but more than anything I didn't work as hard as I needed to to put myself in a better position."
O'Neal said he allowed certain parts of the business to dictate how he felt, which is what he set out to address this past summer.
And once he made the decision that he "didn't want it to end like this", the choice was made to make the necessary changes to get back on the court at a high level.
"So I went back and did detox," he said. "I detoxed for a month and a half; I really just changed everything."
A rejuvenated O'Neal could pay big dividends for the Suns, as they are thin up front behind starting center Marcin Gortat. While no one is expecting a return to his All-Star form, it sounds like the center is ready to prove he's not done yet.
- Phoenix Suns launch a social media campaign to find new fan models
- Former Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa signs with the Golden State Warriors
- Suns guard Goran Dragic limited as Slovenia routed by United States in World Cup exhibition
- Report: Phoenix Suns reach out to Minnesota Timberwolves about an Eric Bledsoe-Kevin Love trade
- Phoenix Suns don't have a point guard in top ten of WARP projections
- Lionel Hollins, head coach Brooklyn Nets - Wednesday August 27The head coach of the Brooklyn Nets joins Doug & Wolf for the ASU Sun Devil Fork Report.
- Kirk Gibson, D-backs manager - Tuesday August 26D-backs manager Kirk Gibson discusses possible changes to a six-man rotation.
- Paul Coro - azcentral sports Suns writer - Tuesday August 26Paul Coro discusses Eric Bledsoe still being a restricted free agent.
- Chris Sheridan- sheridanhoops.com - Tuesday August 19Chris Sheridan believes there is one team that could easily make a max contract offer to Eric Bledso
- Who impressed/who depressed - Monday August 18Dan and Vince look back at who impressed and depressed them over the weekend.