Jermaine O’Neal had his best game in a Golden State Warriors uniform on Tuesday night in a 102-101 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds starting in place of the suspended Andrew Bogut.
In fact, it was one of the best games in a while for the 35-year-old center, and it was his first game back in more than a week due to injuries.
After the game, O’Neal was interviewed by Jim Barnett of CSN Bay Area, and delivered what has to be one of the most epic, stirring postgame interviews in recent memory. From religion to words of wisdom, O’Neal does not give your normal, cliche interview.
Below is the majority of the transcript (follow along with the video above)…
On finding the energy to have his best game in a Warrior uniform:
First off, I gotta give a glory to God. I haven’t been able to practice. I haven’t been able to do anything but rehab. I’ve got the knee, the groin, and the wrist (injuries), I’ve got the viral infection. And God gave me the energy to come out here and perform.
For our team, I keep telling these guys. Trials and tribulations is what builds character and a true championship team. It may not look good all the time, but if we keep fighting, it doesn’t matter who’s on the court. Hopefully these lessons that we learned early — all the injuries, losing some games — will teach us a lesson. I truly believe that at the end of the year, we’re going to be rewarded for these lessons that we learned.
On whether starting in place of Bogut gave him the impetus to get off to a good start:
I told the coaches after the last game that I was going to play (today) no matter what. I’ve been trying to catch a rhythm and getting in a comfort zone. Coach has been giving me great advice, not only as a basketball player but also as a man who’s searching for a new spiritual side of his life. It’s all coming into play for me.
I didn’t know how tonight was going to be. I didn’t know how much endurance I would have. But I prayed about it and hope I can take the same thing to Dallas tomorrow.
On joining the Warriors and the difference between this team and his previous teams:
The difference between this team and (the Pacers) — and it’s a slight difference — but everybody really loves each other. And when you have a group that loves each other, that has no envy about anything that we’re doing, the sky’s the limit. I keep telling these guys, “Do not let this moment pass us by. That’s the only regret that I have in my career because I believed that in Indiana, we would have a chance to win it every year. But multiple things happened — injuries, suspensions, the brawl (Malice at the Palace) — we never got a chance. And here I am in my 18th year, still trying to win that championship. I hope that we can learn, continue to build and get better, and the crazy fans at Oracle continue to give us that love that show us each an every night. I think this is going to be a special year for us.