Rick Osentoski/US Presswire
Jermaine O'Neal's going to need more padding with all these charges.BOSTON -- Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal got credited with three more charges drawn in Wednesday's lopsided win over the Toronto Raptors, boosting his season total to 18 through a mere 17 games (and a mere 382 minutes of court time), according to HoopData.
Forgive us for revisiting O'Neal already, but what he's doing deserves more attention. As we detailed earlier this week, O'Neal is among the league leaders despite playing a fraction of the minutes of his top competition in this unofficial charge-taking competition.
O'Neal joked last week about asking Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to add some charge-taking kickers to his contract (no luck on that front yet, he reported Wednesday). But one change that is in the offing is that O'Neal plans to upgrade his body padding to help absorb some of the punishment he's taking.
"I can say that every charge now is getting harder and harder, and I’m starting to get off that floor slower and slower," admitted O'Neal. "So we’re going to talk a little bit about getting some more pads -- more body pads. I love it, I love it because it helps the team."
What O'Neal does in taking charges is such an undervalued asset, in part because it's not an official NBA statistic. It's essentially like forcing a turnover and often lead to momentum swings because it energizes the defense and often erases a layup attempt for the offense.
And, for O'Neal, it's something he can do even when his shot isn't falling or his legs are not letting him be as active on the defensive end as he might like.
"To me, it’s a different storyline, a different plot every night," said O'Neal. "Hopefully there's the same ending to those stories -- the ending is winning. You have to feel and find your way on this team. Some nights it’s going to fall for you, offensively, and some nights it’s not. But some night it’s just going to be a hard one. So I just try to do what I can do to help this team win."
Give credit to O'Neal for this, he's battling a left knee bone bruise that came from absorbing a Hedu Turkoglu charge last month. He's also got a left wrist injury that stems from a charge taken against Toronto in the preseason last year and has been twice aggravated by taking charges (including once in the playoffs against the Knicks last season).
On Wednesday night he endured early foul trouble and yet he still stood in there and drew contact. Truth be told, he was upset he didn't get a fourth charge call in the second half (the referees instead calling him for a blocking foul).
Yes, it's clear O'Neal enjoys doing the gritty work like taking charges and blocking shots, and is willing to give up his body for this team. It's exactly the sort of unselfishness the Celtics need alongside their Big Four.
"You guys like the flash, you guys like when the ball goes in the basket," O'Neal said. "There’s a lot of dirty work that goes on that triggers that flash."
And that dirty work isn't always gentle on the body.