OAKLAND -- Warriors veteran big man Jermaine O'Neal called any talk of firing coach Mark Jackson "ridiculous" and "unfair" before offering a vote of confidence unique to his own NBA career.
O'Neal is considering retirement, and if the 35-year-old were to decide to play next season, he said it would be because of Jackson and that the team he would choose would be the Warriors.
"It's a couple reasons why I will come back," O'Neal said Saturday. "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 percent 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."
O'Neal, whom Jackson noted was "underpaid" and "a steal" while playing on a $2 million, one-year contract, said he would choose Golden State despite the distance from family because Jackson has shown just how much he cares about his players.
Offering up an example, the business-minded O'Neal said Jackson allowed him to miss practice Tuesday so he could go to Mountain View to attend Y Combinator's Demo Day, which features startup companies making presentations.
O'Neal also appreciated how Jackson has been mindful of putting too much of a physical burden on him because of his age and experience.
With Andrew Bogut going down with a pelvic contusion in Friday's win against Memphis, O'Neal's presence in the lineup could be needed once again for Sunday's game against New York as the Warriors look to close out a playoff berth with 10 games left.
"To me, it's one of the most unfair things that I've seen in a long time," O'Neal said. "And it truly is a team that's 18 games over .500. Eighteen. And we're talking about firing a coach with 10, 11 games left?
"Here's the facts. To everybody that's negative out there, you may not ever see this again. I know that firsthand because I've been in the position. It may take 10 years to be back in that position, so do you want to accept us with open arms and continue to show the support?"
Jackson faced scrutiny earlier this week after the reassignment of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine. Told of O'Neal's support, Jackson reiterated his most important purpose in coaching was to impact lives in a positive way.
"People don't want to hear it, but it is what it is," Jackson said. "I think the wins follow when you do that."
Bogut was scheduled Saturday to undergo an MRI, with the result expected to be revealed Sunday.
"He's still hurting," Jackson said. "Watching the edit of it, it was a severe blow he took, so he's still in plenty of pain this morning."
Against the Knicks, the Warriors could be missing their top two rebounders as David Lee remains questionable due to a strained right hamstring. The Warriors are 3-1 this season with neither Bogut nor Lee in the lineup.
"You take any team in this league and you take away their starting power forward and center, they're not going to be the same team," Jackson said. "With us, standard line. No excuses."