Ulmer Q&A With Jermaine ONeal

July 9, 2008

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Jermaine ONeal has arrived in Toronto with a bang and a smile.

ONeal charmed the assembled media Wednesday as the Raptors announced his acquisition from the Indiana Pacers along with the rights to Nathan Jawai for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the rights to centre Roy Hibbert.

Raptors.com's Mike Ulmer had a bunch of questions for ONeal.

Mike Ulmer: You injured your hand as a kid but turned that into a positive by developing your left hand.

Jermaine ONeal: Actually, I broke it in Grade 4 or 5. I was playing football and fell and broke my hand. I was falling behind in school so my mother said, ok, you have to write with your left. I just started dribbling and shooting with my left.

M.U.: Does it surprise you how many players in the NBA lack proficiency with their off hand?

J.O.: Absolutely. Its a strange thing. If you work on it you can do it. Its like walking. Keep on doing it and itll work.

M.U.: What did you take away from playing with Reggie Miller?

J.O.: Approach. He was probably the best at it and I played with Scottie Pippen and a lot of great players. His approach to detail was unbelievable. Reggie went to the gym the same time, same route. As far as how I prepare for the game, shooting-wise, everything is the same. I put on little patches, the whole routine, how I drink my water, how I use power-gels, the same thing every single day.

M.U.: Whats the big difference between superstition and routine?

J.O.: If you are superstitious, you dont really believe in yourself. You think you are only successful because of that superstition. Routine is you believe in yourself and you are setting the table every single day to make sure you are at a high level.

M.U.: Is it true you tried to buy all your daughter Asjias girl guide cookies so she could have the highest sales in her Brownie troupe.

J.O.: Yeah, yeah. Im so competitive. Last year, I bought 70 boxes. I still have them in the pantry. We wanted to teach her the value of competing, but Im so competitive, it ran into my daughters life. I had to stand back and she sold them at grocery stores. She finished second this year but it was a good second. She learned something and she taught Dad a lot too.

M.U.: Do you see yourself as a four or a five.

J.O.: It doesnt really matter any more. The four and the five are pretty much the same positions in this league and teams use forwards as centres.

M.U.:How do you describe Ron Artest?

J.O.: Hes a great father. Hes a very different guy, personally. He is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen in my life. Sometimes he doesnt stay focused all the time. A great personality. Sometime he just phases out. Hes a very shy guy. I cannot understand why he does things because he doesnt really like the attention. When you are talking to him, he doesnt look right at you. He looks away. He is very shy. Its just unexplainable how he ends up in some of the situations he gets involved in.

M.U.: Ron Artest considered himself a rap artist. Why do so many NBA guys want to be rap artists?

J.O.: I dont have the slightest idea. Basketball takes up so much of your time, mentally and physically. If you are an artist, thats your life. If you play ball, you dont have enough time or focus to make that a career. The only guy who has done well is Shaq. Everybody else is just a wannabe rapper.

M.U.: What do you know about Canada?

J.O.: I dont know that much. I know they have great basketball ownership and fan support. The shopping is great, thatll cost me a little bit. What makes it exciting is what I dont know. Its a new team, new city, new country. Its a transition Im welcoming.

M.U.: You once blocked 10 shots against the Raptors. Whats more fun, a dunk or a block?

J.O.: A dunk is more fun for the fans but I think a block is more fun for me. A block changes the tempo. If you block a persons shot, theyre looking for you. You dont want to have your shot blocked.