‘Ain’t on That Level’: Shaquille O’Neal Explains His Criticism of Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell

Published 08/26/2021, 7:30 AM EDT
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 06: Shaquille O’Neal appears to promote “Toys for Tots” during the AOL BUILD Series at AOL HQ on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)


When you hear the word ‘Dominance’, Shaquille O’Neal is the first player to come to mind. The ‘Big Diesel’ became one of the best centers in the league as soon as stepped on the court. After retirement, Shaq has given up that title of most dominant and passed it over to Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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Being an analyst, Shaq is always talking about players and the league. While he does give players their praise, he can be bitter sometimes. Notably, his feud with Dwight Howard goes on to this day. Another player he criticized publically was Donovan Mitchell.

Recently, Shaquille O’Neal cleared up his comments over Mitchell.

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NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 14: Shaquille O’Neal attends the ESPN Gala: “30 For 30: This Magic Moment” Screening during the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theatre on April 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)
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Shaquille O’Neal says Donovan Mitchell is on his way

The ‘Big Diesel’ recently appeared on the Full Send Podcast. While on, he spoke about various things like his beef with Kobe, who was the biggest trash talker, and more. One of the topics also included him speaking about the league has become soft and political.

He defended his argument by bringing up his incident with Donovan Mitchell. Shaquille O’Neal said: “I said something about Donovan Mitchell one time and everybody who everybody is started bashing me. But then I listen to what I’m saying. What I am saying is, I play with Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, D-Wade, LeBron James, Steve Nash. If you ain’t on that level, I dont know what great is.”

He went into further detail saying: “Really good player, on his way. But to try to crown him as the next. Then I said okay, if he is crowned the next, where is he ranked right now. And, people saying five, six, seven. I said ‘I don’t know where you’ll come from but being 5th is not acceptable to me.’ If I am not number one or number two don’t bring my name up, ever.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 09: NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal attends the grand opening of Shaquille’s At L.A. Live at LA Live on March 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Shaq is referring to the time when he told Mitchell he does not have what it takes. Mitchell did not say anything about it publically, he just said alright. However, is Donovan there yet?

Is Spida Mitchell next?

Donovan is surely one of the more impressive players in the league. His offensive skills keep improving each year. Moreover, come playoff time, he steps up big time in the moments that matter. But it may be too soon to crown him as the next great in the sport just yet.

Jun 18, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) sits on the scorers table during the closing minute of the LA Clippers win in game six in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

As Shaq said that he is still on his way to greatness. Mitchell caught everyone’s eye when he and Jamal Murray went head to head in the 2020 playoffs. It was one of the most exciting playoff series in a long time. Even this year. Mitchell was on fire in the playoffs, averaging 32 points per game.

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He even led the Jazz to the best record in the NBA. However, the main thing that comes with greatness is consistency. Spida is only entering his fifth year in the league. While he is highly skilled, putting him in the great category will need some time.

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If he can keep up his run for years to come, adding a few championships, he will surely be called as great. Do you think Shaq is going too hard on Mitchell? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

268 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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