A month ago, Shaquille O’Neal took an uncalled-for shot at Donovan Mitchell, claiming that he didn’t have what it took to get the Utah Jazz to the next level. Mitchell was unfazed by his comments and pretty much ignored him, but the rest of the NBA community went at Shaq for constantly calling out young players.
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
Now, four weeks later, Shaq has finally addressed those comments, claiming that he was just trying to see what Mitchell was made of. At least, he admitted that he was out of line and that he could’ve chosen his words better:
“As a leader sometimes you gotta ruffle some feathers. See a lot of people think this is personal with me. It’s never personal with me. I got too much going on to make it personal, but hey we’re paid to be objective and it’s my opinion that he wasn’t at that level, but he’s playing at that level now, so you’re welcome. This is what you do as a locker room leader, this is what you do as a leader,” Shaq said on ‘The Rich Eisen Show.’
“Phil [Jackson] would always talk to us like that but he couldn’t talk to all the guys like that. I really didn’t know Donovan so I probably could have worded the words a little different, but I was just testing out to see what he was. I know he’s a tough kid, so I knew he would be able to take it and he’s playing well and Utah is playing well and I wish him very well,” O’Neal concluded.
Shaq and Charles Barkley are becoming quite infamous around the NBA community for the way they’re criticizing young players. It’s not like they can’t have an opinion but sometimes, it feels like they’re just flat-out hating.
As for Mitchell, he’s the leader of the best team in the Western Conference right now and an MVP candidate in just his fourth season in the league, so I don’t think he’s too worried about what Shaq has to say.