OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O'Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned TNT analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, ''America meet Javale ''BUM'' McGee.''
O'Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would ''smack'' McGee's ''bum a--'' after McGee reacted to yet more mockery.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and teammate Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq ''childish'' while criticizing the retired center's poor free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.
''JaVale works extremely hard. He's come in here and done so much for us as a player,'' Durant said. ''He only wants to be respected just like anybody else. I understand that Shaq works for a company that wants him to do that type of stuff and make fun of the players. It's cool and funny but when you just keep doing it time and time and time again for no reason and then a guy actually disagrees with you and you threaten him, I didn't know cops could threaten civilians like that. It's definitely childish but that's what they want from these stars, these retired players, is to feud with the guys that's playing now and make arguments and disagreements.
''If I was JaVale I'd feel the same way. It's childish. Shaq wants to make a joke about it but if it was him in that position he would feel the same way.''
Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat after McGee was done playing Thursday night and it went into the wee hours of Friday. In a 123-113 win against the Clippers, McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.
The 7-foot McGee, who wasn't available after practice to discuss the matter, had four points and four rebounds in nearly 12 minutes of action. Many days after practice he sits with assistant coach Jarron Collins to study film.
From Kerr's perspective, the constant ripping of McGee by O'Neal could affect the big man's reputation and salary figures in the future.
''JaVale has been fantastic for us, as a player, as a teammate, a fantastic guy,'' Kerr said. ''He's funny, he's fun to be around, he does his job. He's a total pro. I don't blame him for being frustrated. Shaq's been picking on him for years and years and years. I think JaVale, rightfully so, probably gets frustrated. It like never ends. It's one thing to just have a little fun but I think you can go a little bit over the top.
''So, it's one of those things, if you think of JaVale's career when you're in this position where somebody on national TV's making fun of you night after night, it's not the greatest thing for your reputation. I can tell you I had a preconceived notion of JaVale before he got here that turned out to be totally false.''
Kerr hopes McGee can move on and focus on basketball.
The 29-year-old McGee is in his ninth NBA season with his fifth team.
''Everybody can't be Shaq,'' Durant said. ''He's trying to make his money and enjoy the game of basketball and this perception of him now is that he's a dumb player because he makes mistakes out on the court. Shaq was a s--- free throw shooter. He missed dunks, he airballed free throws, he couldn't shoot outside the paint. He was bigger than everybody. He didn't have any skills.''