Donovan Mitchell Responds To Shaq; Media, Celebrities React

Jan 22, 2021, 1:24 PM | Updated: 4:54 pm

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts to a late basket in the second half of a NBA game agai...

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz reacts to a late basket in the second half of a NBA game against the Golden State Warriors at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 19, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Donovan Mitchell found himself at the center of a national controversy after this 36 point outing against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. During halftime and after the nationally televised game, Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley ripped the guard for not doing more to elevate the Utah Jazz.

At halftime of the broadcast, Shaq insisted Mitchell would be better served as the second or third option on a championship level team. Barkley and co-host Kenny Smith counted the ways Mitchell can’t take over a game, despite a 21 point, three rebound, two assist first half.

During Mitchell’s walk-off interview with the TNT crew, Shaq offered Mitchell a critique that felt more like an indictment on the guard’s play than a question about the game leading to a cringeworthy standoff between the Hall of Famer and the All-Star.

“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. I wanted you to hear it,” O’Neal told Mitchell. “What do you have to say about that?”

“Aight,” the Jazzman responded.

“That’s it?” O’Neal asked.

“That’s it,” Mitchell said. “I’ve been hearing that since my rookie year. You know, I’m just gonna get better and do what I do.”

Mitchell Further Elaborates On Shaq In Locker Room

Mitchell was pressed on the acquisition from the TNT crew, and his awkward interview with Shaq after the game.

Fittingly, Mitchell handled the question with the grace of a player more experienced than he is.

“I hate to take a win like this and make it about what they said about me,” Mitchell said. “Look at how we played, look at how we guarded. I’m happy.”

Mitchell pointed to the team’s early-season improvement, learning how to endure runs like the one made by the Pelicans in the first half that saw the Jazz fall behind 16 points before clawing back for the 129-118 victory.

“Remember the start of the year we came out flat in certain games,” Mitchell remembered. “If teams hit us first we didn’t have a push back.”

The Jazz turned their 16 point deficit into a 17 point advantage midway through the third quarter and coasted to a double-digit victory, their seventh straight of the young season.

“I’m here to play basketball and to be the best teammate and best player that I can be,” Mitchell said. “If they don’t like it, they don’t like it. I’m not trying to make this about me, this is team basketball.”

National Spotlight Turns to Mitchell

After the awkward interaction on TNT, Mitchell became the center of a national controversy. The interview drew the attention of national outlets, media members, and celebrities alike, with most coming to Mitchell’s defense.

ESPN writer Bomani Jones responded to the interview to his 550,000 Twitter followers by offering Mitchell his support.

“The last thing shaq expected was for Mitchell to not give on [sic] single solitary [thought] about his opinion,” Jones tweeted. “Good for donovan.”

CBS Sports Radio host Brandon Tierney was also quick to point out the flaws in Shaq’s approach.

“Love Shaq and old-school motivational tactics, but this misses the mark badly,” Tierney tweeted. “Mitchell deserves much better, publicly. Dude dropped 57, 51 and 44 in playoffs last year. 52% on 3’s. Pushed superior team to max. Had 36 last night, takes time to chat and gets hit w/this? Weak.”

Even popular rapper Wale took issues with Shaq’s line of questions for Mitchell. With nearly 6.5 million followers on Twitter, the songwriter offered his thoughts on the exchange.

“Donovan Mitchell don’t owe nobody the response THEY want,” Wale tweeted.

For his part, Mitchell couldn’t be playing much better than he is during the Jazz win streak. The guard is averaging 27.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while shooting an impressive 51 percent from the floor, 52 percent from three, and 91 percent from the free-throw line.

You can listen to the full episode of the Jazz Notes podcast in the player above. Download and listen to every podcast in this link.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Ben Anderson

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mave...

Ben Anderson

NBA Playoffs Rooting Guide For Utah Jazz Fans

If you're a Utah Jazz fan wanting to watch the NBA playoffs, but don't know who to cheer for, this rooting guide is for you.

1 day ago

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz...

Ben Anderson

Jordan Clarkson Wants NBA Title, Second Sixth-Man Trophy

Now the elder statesman of the Utah Jazz, Jordan Clarkson has a few to-dos left in the NBA before calling it a career.

1 day ago

Kenneth Lofton Jr. #34 of the Utah Jazz is guarded by Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the Golden State Warr...

Ben Anderson

Three Utah Jazz Players Earn G League Honors

Kenneth Lofton Jr., Jason Preston, and Darius Bazley all took home G League honors after signing with the Utah Jazz this season.

2 days ago


Ben Anderson

Will Lauri Markkanen Sign Contract Extension With Jazz?

The Utah Jazz enter the 2024 offseason with their eyes set on signing Lauri Markkanen to a contract extension.

3 days ago


Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Keyonte George’s Shooting A Concern?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

4 days ago

Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge...

Ben Anderson

Danny Ainge: Jazz Ready To Go ‘Big Game Hunting’

With the Utah Jazz 2023-24 season complete, CEO Danny Ainge opened up about the team's successes and failures, and its plans for the future.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Donovan Mitchell Responds To Shaq; Media, Celebrities React