Shaquille O'Neal has been introduced as the newest member of the Boston Celtics, and says that he is willing to accept a role coming off the bench if that is what will help the team win more games.
Sporting a gray pinstriped suit with black bow tie, and sitting next to head coach Doc Rivers -- dressed in just a green polo shirt and shorts -- O'Neal was presented with his new Celtics No. 36 jersey. He said he chose the number because he's always worn uniform numbers in the 30s, and that this was the sixth team he had been with.
He said that signing with Boston "was never a tough decision to make," and repeatedly stated the phrase, "It's all about winning."
There has been concern about whether O'Neal, who is 38, would accept a diminished role -- perhaps coming off the bench while Jermaine O'Neal starts at center, but Shaq said that he was resigned to doing whatever it takes to help the team.
"The roles I've had on previous teams were different, but I know I'm older now," O'Neal said.
"I don't mind sacrificing, because at the end of the day its all about winning."
Rivers described O'Neal as "another piece of the puzzle. We're trying to put together a puzzle to win a championship, and we're happy to have him here."
He said the O'Neal signing fits in with a franchise tradition of bringing in players who are near the end of the careers but still have something to offer -- using the case of Bill Walton as an example. Walton joined the Celtics in 1985 after eight injury-filled seasons and excelled as a backup to Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, winning the association's Sixth Man Award and helping the Celtics win the NBA championship.
"It's a formula that has worked very well in Boston, and it's a formula that we hope continues to work," the coach said.
Asked about the many nickname suggestions that have been tossed out for O'Neal now that he is a member of the Celtics -- Rivers cited "The Big Leprechaun" or "The Green Monster" as ones that he's heard -- Shaq said that so far he is leaning toward calling himself "The Big Shamrock," or "The Big Green Mile."
And just how big is the Shamrock these days?
"I'm 7-1, 345 (pounds)," he said, adding, "and I eat a lot of cereal. Frosted Flakes."