We Found the One Guy Who Believed in Jermaine O'Neal. He's Canadian!

Man alive, did you see Jermaine O’Neal out there last night!? Celtics fans will remember how last season, when he was with the Heat, O’Neal looked all but dead in the first round of the playoffs against Boston. You got the feeling Miami “fans” (as heavy air quotes as possible there, please) would have rather seen 44-year-old Rony Seikally back out there. But last night could not have been more different: J.O. went 6-6 from the field for 12 points, grabbed three big offensive rebounds, and swatted away four Knicks shots.

So I must confess, I’m eating a little crow this morning. When the Celtics signed O’Neal last summer, my initial response was to ask if they also got his casket as part of the deal. I knew O’Neal actually had a pretty decent regular season for Miami, but he could not have looked more awful in the playoffs, going 9-44 from the field. I was not alone. Plenty of others wondered why the Celtics would devote their full mid-level exception to a guy who, last we saw, looked totally washed up.

Was there anyone in America who actually thought the Jermaine O’Neal signing was a slam-dunk win for the C’s? My morning of googling indicates no. BUT, there was a guy in Canada who somehow thought it was pretty much the best idea anyone’s ever had. So let’s give it up for Frank Zicarelli, who appears to cover hoops for a Canadian wire service. Nobody jumped on the J.O. bandwagon as hard as this guy. On July 15, he wrote:

Jermaine O’Neal sat back and contemplated his options, choosing to join the aging Boston Celtics in one of those minor moves that has the potential to yield major gains.

With so much of the attention focused on South Beach and the Heat’s three-headed monster, the reigning Eastern Conference champion Celtics should not be taken for granted.

By signing O’Neal, Boston made a very wise investment in a big who figures to step into the team’s starting centre spot until Kendrick Perkins recovers from knee surgery.

O’Neal isn’t going to step out and make shots like Rasheed Wallace, whose career will forever be overshadowed by his boorish behaviour, but he’ll give Boston a much-needed interior presence.

O’Neal’s arrival in Beantown assures the Celtics of making yet one more championship run, perhaps even two, depending, of course, on health and how this veteran group holds up during the NBA marathon.

Two things: first, how awesome is the Canadian spelling of the word “centre”? Second, really? He actually thought the Jermaine O’Neal signing was the thing that would guarantee the Celtics another title run? That still sounds sort of crazy. But, hey, take a bow today Frank Zicarelli. Who knows how O’Neal will hold up the rest of the playoffs, but he certainly just won the Celtics game one.