BOSTON (CBS) – In town to spread some holiday cheer and promote his new book, Shaquille O’Neal had a message for all of Boston: He’s sorry.

O’Neal said he does not talk much with his former Celtics teammates, but they do exchange text messages every once in a while. Each time he responds to them, he makes sure they know he feels bad for letting the team down last season.

“Every time I text them, and see people from Boston, I always tell them sorry for letting them down. I do believe if I didn’t get hurt, we would have made it pretty far,” O’Neal said on Friday.

Shaq was signed before last season, in hopes of providing depth to a Celtics front court that already had Kendrick Perkins and Jermaine O’Neal. But with Perkins recovering from ACL surgery and Jermaine not ready to start the season, Shaq found himself the team’s starting center on opening night.

He played well when on the court, but was then hit with a rash of injuries. From a bad back to post all-star calf sprain, Shaq could not get back on the hardwood. He ended up playing in 37 regular games for Boston, none after mid-April, averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.

When the playoffs came around, it was a daily rumor mill of “will he” or “won’t he” play. Shaq tried to return, but was unable to play in the first round series against the New York Knicks. Then, all Shaq could give the Celtics were 12 minutes in their second round ousting by the Miami Heat.

Because of this, the 7-1 behemoth feels bad for letting down the team, and city.

“They brought me here and they had a lot of expectations. I had a lot of expectations myself,” he said. “Every time I see my friends from Boston, I always remind them that I let them down a little bit.”

O’Neal retired after the season with 19 years in the NBA under his belt.


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