Former NBA big man Jermaine O’Neal played for the Miami Heat in two seasons during his career, and he recently discussed how the team’s strict approach to fitness impacted his time with the organization.
O’Neal sat down to discuss his NBA career during an appearance on the “Knuckleheads” podcast. During the conversation, he discussed the intensity of the demands the Heat expect from their players.
O’Neal explained that he could have remained with the team for its iconic Big 3 era but chose not to.
“I’m gonna go start with Miami,” he said. “Now, they wanted me to re-sign. I knew that Bron (LeBron James) and them was coming. I knew Bron was coming. And this is the realest thing I could tell y’all. You know they got that eight percent body fat, right? For a big guy, that’s heavy lifting.
“I remember going into the pantry at night, looking at the Oreos, the Oreos looking at me, right? And I could — bruh, I am in a full battle, daily, on what I ate. And I was like, ‘Bruh, I’m 30-plus years old. I can’t go through this.’”
O’Neal explained why he ultimately left the Heat.
“So I was like, ‘Bruh, I’m too old to be having a debate whether I want to have an Oreo or not.’ Right? I can’t do that s—. So that’s why I left Miami.”
It’s an amusing admission, and it offers good insight into how demanding it can be to be a member of the Heat.
During his time in Miami, O’Neal averaged 13.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. His time with the Heat also represented the final time in his career that he was a consistent starter throughout an entire NBA season. He started in all 70 games that he played in with the Heat during the 2009-10 campaign.