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“It’s one of the most unfair things that I’ve seen in a long time" — Jermaine O'Neal blasted the Golden State Warriors for firing Mark Jackson

As it turned out, O’Neal was a man of his word, and didn't play a single NBA game once Jackson was no longer his coach.
Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and center Jermaine O'Neal

Mark Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal

In his three years as the Golden State Warriors head coach, Mark Jackson tallied a decent 121-109 record. He spearheaded the Dubs to two playoff appearances in that stint, so it’s safe to say Jackson did quite alright. However, one thing Jackson wasn’t good at, apparently, was getting along with Warriors’ management.

After weeks of facing scrutiny, Jackson was fired by the Warriors in May 2014, right after the Los Angeles Clippers eliminated Golden State in the first round of the playoffs. At the time, some believed it was unfair, but none of them sympathized with Jackson the same way former Warriors big man Jermaine O’Neal did.

J.O. didn’t like it

In 2013, O’Neal was 35 years old and considering retirement after 17 years of playing in the NBA. However, J.O. was convinced to give it another go with the Warriors because of Jackson.

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O’Neal played 44 games with Golden State that season, and he said he enjoyed everything about the city. However, the reason why he would want to continue playing for the Warriors is Jackson. So, when the team decided to part ways with his beloved coach in the summer, O’Neal was devastated.

It’s a couple reasons why I will come back,” O’Neal told The Mercury News in 2014. “This fan base, this organization is first class, and obviously my teammates are great, as well. But the No. 1 reason that I will come back and play another year is because of Coach Jackson. I’m absolutely, 100% positive about that. He makes it easy to come in this gym every day, and there’s not a lot of coaches that do that…To me, it’s one of the most unfair things that I’ve seen in a long time.

As it turned out, O’Neal was a man of his word. After the 2013-14 season, he called it a career and never made an NBA comeback.

Kerr knows

According to the man himself, O’Neal wasn’t the only one who vouched for him. Jackson once said that if there’s “one person” who could really tell whether he was a terrible coach or not, that would be Steve Kerr, the coach who replaced him as the Warriors head coach.

I got people that’ll vouch for me, right?,” Jackson said last year. “The one person that absolutely knows that is Steve Kerr. Because he took over the job right and when you take over a job you knew whether it was a good situation a bad situation.

After all is said and done, it’s still hard to tell whether Jackson was good or bad at his job. But one fact remains - it wasn’t Jackson who brought the championship back to Golden State.

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