CLEVELAND, March 2 – Cleveland center Shaquille O'Neal had surgery on his injured right thumb on Monday and will likely miss the remainder of the NBA regular season, the Cavaliers said.
If he makes it back for the postseason, the NBA veteran is vowing to make up for lost time.
"He feels like he let us down, but we understand injuries happen in the game," said teammate Jamario Moon, who got a text from the star center along with the other Cavs. "I think he’s really down about being out. … He let us know it’s time to continue playing basketball and he’s going to be all right."
O’Neal was injured in the Cavaliers’ NBA victory at Boston last Thursday, when a shot from him was blocked by Glen Davis in the first half.
He was examined on Sunday by hand specialist Thomas Graham, who performed the surgery on Monday.
The expected eight-week recovery time means O’Neal, who turns 38 on Saturday, might not be ready to play when the playoffs get underway on April 17.
He was acquired by the Cavaliers last summer after Dwight Howard and Orlando eliminated Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.
"Will be out for a min but when I return it is on," O’Neal posted on his Twitter account on Monday morning. "Win da ring for da king! Luv my team, Cavs baby!"
Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry said O’Neal will wear a splint for a fortnight, then begin rehabilitation.
"Our guys have done a very good job of stepping up this season. We are confident they will do the same in this situation," Ferry said.