NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t bite his tongue when it comes to critiquing current NBA players, but he may have gone a bit too far this time.
During a recent telecast of the Inside The NBA, Ernie, Shaq, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith broke down the Utah Jazz’s 129-118 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Donovan Mitchell had himself a night scoring 36 points shooting an efficient 11-19 from the field, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists.
But that wasn’t enough to impress Shaq, who was ribbing Mitchell the entire night, calling him “just a scorer.” Immediately following the game, Spidamitchell spoke with the crew, and O’Neal said to him:
“I said tonight that you are one of my favorite players, but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level. I said it on purpose because I wanted you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?”
Mitchell wasn’t fazed at all and perfectly responded:
The exchange made for awkward television, and it was just absolutely head-scratching as to why Shaq would even ask Donovan Mitchell that in the first place.
Donovan's response when Shaq tells him he doesn't have what it takes to get to the next level:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2021
When speaking with reporters, Mitchell had more to say Shaq and Charles Barkley — who also had some interesting takes — about the Utah Jazz.
“I hate to take a win like this and make it about what they said about me. Look at how we played, look at how we guarded. I’m happy.”
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) January 22, 2021
Mitchell’s teammate, Mike Conley, came to his defense, adding:
“I’ve been a big fan of Don’s and seeing the way he’s grown, even before he was here. I don’t know how you can make a statement like that regarding his progress at such a young age. He’s gotten better every year.”
Mike Conley, on Shaq's comments about Donovan Mitchell: "I’ve been a big fan of Don’s and seeing the way he’s grown, even before he was here. I don’t know how you can make a statement like that regarding his progress at such a young age. He's gotten better every year."
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) January 22, 2021
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who is currently Shaq’s favorite punching bag replacing Dwight Howard due to the large contract the Jazz blessed him with, also chimed in on the hate from Shaq and Chuck.
“At the end of the day, whatever they want to call us, if we keep winning games, they will have to watch us anyway. Hopefully, they have to watch us until July. And then they can call us whatever they want.”
Rudy Gobert on the TNT crew and comments: "At the end of the day, whatever they want to call us, if we keep winning games, they will have to watch us anyway. Hopefully they have to watch us until July. And then they can call us whatever they want."
— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) January 22, 2021
As expected, NBA Twitter also had thoughts, mainly blasting Shaq for his comments.
I don’t get the point of Shaq doing this. At all. It’s really weird. https://t.co/0NN33kcR7C
— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) January 22, 2021
Shaq expected him to debate with him and literally got nothing back 😂. I’m Donovan Mitchell energy for the rest of 2021.
— Jerm (@IamJerm24) January 22, 2021
We see no lies detected here.
You can peep more reactions to Shaq playing himself in the gallery below.
Photo: Alex Goodlett / Getty