BOSTON, August 11 – Shaquille O'Neal has it all in Boston, including a new nickname of "Big Shamrock" to go with his new team and what he hopes will be a fifth NBA title campaign.
O’Neal signed a two-year deal with the Celtics at the league’s minimum veteran salary, and said he did so because he thought the Celtics gave him a chance to add to his four NBA championships.
"Do I have the same hunger? Yes. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here," O’Neal said. "I don’t like wasting my time. I don’t like wasting anybody’s time. At the end of the day, when I close the book, it’s all about winning."
O’Neal joked about his new nickname, fears that his children will develop a distinctive Boston accent and trying to beat new teammate Glen "Big Baby" Davis in a chowder-eating contest.
A dozen television crews and some 50 reporters at the press conference were joined by hundreds of happy school children who were attending a basketball camp nearby.
New Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett also flew back from Hawaii to be there.
"To me this is a very exclusive event," said O’Neal, who wore a gray pinstriped suit and a black bow tie. "It’s my last (introductory) press conference. I just wanted to be very, very sharp."
O’Neal is a former NBA Most Valuable Player and a certainty to make the Hall of Fame.
But there is no doubt he is no longer at his peak.
O’Neal averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Cavaliers last season, when he was brought to Cleveland in the hopes that he could help LeBron James win an NBA title.
O’Neal also missed almost two months of the regular season after injuring his thumb against the Celtics.
"I told him there won’t be 30 minutes (per game) on this team, there will be 20-25," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I asked him if that would be OK, because that’s the only way it’s going to work."
"I realize I only have 730 days left in this game. I just wanted to be with a group of guys that like to win," O’Neal said. "This was a good team with or without me. I don’t mind playing a role.
"I know where I am at this point in my career. It’s about coming to a team that is one or two pieces from a championship."
O’Neal’s role could be especially important as center Kendrick Perkins is sidelined for at least half the season recovering from a knee injury.
"Shaq still can do things that no other big man can," Rivers said. "You need size to win. We think we filled that void pretty well today."
The Celtics won their NBA-record 17th championship in 2008, then returned to the finals last year, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.