Shaquille O’Neal arrived in Cleveland in June amid much fanfare and
proclaimed he wanted to "Win a ring for The King."
But he came up short as the Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics, 94-85,
on Thursday night in TD Garden to lose the best-of-seven Eastern
Conference semifinals, four games to two.
"Obviously everyone is disappointed, but as a person and as a
professional, I think I did everything they asked me to do," said
O’Neal, who missed the final six weeks of the regular season after
tearing a ligament in his right thumb. "I got injured, came back in
better shape. I did everything they asked me to do."
What he and the Cavs could not do was figure out how to stop the Celtics, from the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to point guard Rajon Rondo.
"I just think we made too many mistakes," O’Neal said. "Turned the ball over, really had no answer for Rondo at times. He’s a great point guard. . . . It starts with defense and our defensive numbers slipped for some reason.
"You’ve to play hard and smart. We gave two games away. Actually three games, we even gave this game away against a veteran team that’s really, really playing hard. We made too many mistakes, especially that home game the other day. Very, very disappointing. We had a chance to win it here tonight and we played hard, but we made too many crucial mistakes."
That being said, O’Neal still thinks the Cavaliers should be considered title contenders, even if they won’t win a title this year.
"Definitely," he said. "But there have been a lot of title-contending teams on paper, and you still got to go out and get it done. We didn’t go out and get it done. This is a team that could have gotten it done, but it just didn’t happen."
So, what does happen now? O’Neal is a free agent now and wants to keep playing.
"Of course," he said. "I missed 360 games because of injury in my career, so by my calculations I still have 3.7 years left. That means I’m going to play until I’m 41. I’ve been here 17 years but I’ve missed a lot of games, so I still feel I can play this game."