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Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Shaquille O’Neal On Donovan Mitchell: ‘He Great, But He Ain’t That Great’

Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal tried to explain his controversial comments about Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, but may have doubled down on his less than flattering remarks.

During the Jazz January 21 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, O’Neal offered Mitchell criticism that read like more of an insult than a compliment.

“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 going to get better and do what I do.”

In a conversation with Yahoo Sports LaJethro Jenkins, O’Neal elaborated on his statement.

“When I came at Donovan, the only thing I wanted to hear him say was, ‘Okay OG, watch what I do next,'” O’Neal explained. “I just be like, he great, but he ain’t that great.”

O’Neal told Jenkins he was just trying to read Mitchell’s “temperature” when presented with the opinion, hoping he’d respond with improved play.

Mitchell is averaging 25.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over his last nine games with the Jazz. He’s connecting on 48 percent of his field-goal attempts and 46 percent of his three-point shots.

O’Neal also explained that the controversy may have been born out of how he delivered his critique, rather thatn the critique itself.

“Instead of listening to how I say it, just listen to what I say,” O’Neal said.

Mithell missed the Jazz last outing with concussion-like symptoms. He remains questionable for Friday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.