The team wouldn't comply when O'Neal asked for a cortisone injection to make his ailing shoulder feel better, choosing to treat it with rest and rehabilitation. O'Neal returned to practice with the Cavaliers on Monday and is hopeful he can play in Cleveland's game at Detroit on Wednesday.
"You can tell it's a great organization," O'Neal said. "I was cursing and screaming and trying to make them shoot me up, but they wouldn't do it."
O'Neal missed five games after he tried blocking a dunk by Miami's Michael Beasley on Nov. 12. He called the injury a strained rotator cuff, but wouldn't say which shoulder he hurt.
"My hat goes off to them for being above board," O'Neal said. "I'm from the old school. If it ain't broke, let's just keep going, shoot it up with whatever is legal. But they refused me many times."
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said there was no reason for the team to push O'Neal and risk further damage to the shoulder.
"It's early in the season, but even if it's late, we don't want to rush anybody back," he said. "We understand this is a business for them. They have families to take care of. There's no need to rush anyone out there without them being right."
LeBron James responded by averaging a league-best 34.3 points last week to win the Eastern Conference player of the week award.
Now Cleveland seems to be getting healthy again in time for games this week against Detroit, Charlotte and Dallas. Brown isn't concerned about how O'Neal will fit in upon returning.
"Anytime someone misses a couple of games, it takes a little bit to be reacquainted," Brown said. "But he's got a great feel for the game. We think he'll step right in."