UTAH JAZZ

Shaq: Jazz Biggest Threat To Lakers In West

Sep 16, 2021, 12:01 PM
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Shaquille O'Neal speaks onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards pres...
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Shaquille O'Neal speaks onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Shaquille O’Neal turned some heads during his appearance on ESPN’s First Take with Stephen A. Smith. Shaq told Smith that the Utah Jazz were the biggest threat to the Los Angeles Lakers championship hopes in the West this upcoming season.

Over the summer, the Lakers traded for All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and signed Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and Trevor Ariza.

The moves came after the Lakers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns last season during the opening round of the playoffs, though they were playing with a hobbled Anthony Davis and a less-than-100-percent LeBron James.

Despite the Suns’ run to the Finals, and the Los Angeles Clippers eliminating the Jazz in the second round, it’s Utah that Shaq says is the biggest threat to the Lakers to win the West.

What may surprise fans, is that the Lakers legend credited Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert, a player O’Neal has frequently targeted with criticism, as a reason for Utah’s predicted success.

“I’m going to be so hard on Rudy this year,” O’Neal said. “Rudy’s coming with a vengeance.”

Last season, Shaq criticized the Jazz center for his limited offensive game after Gobert signed his massive five-year, $200-plus million contract.

“I’m not gonna hate, but this should be an inspiration to all the little kids out there,” O’Neal said. “You average 11 points in the NBA, you can get $200 million.”

Shaq was also critical of Donovan Mitchell during a TNT broadcast of a game between the Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans.

“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 during a postgame interview. “What do you have to say about that?”

“Alright,” 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.”

Though Shaq said the Jazz were the Lakers’ biggest competitors in the West, he didn’t shy away from placing high expectations on Los Angeles’s latest super team.

“It’s championship or bust.”

The NBA season kicks off on October 19, with the opening night lineup featuring the Lakers hosting the Golden State Warriors.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Yoeli-Childs-Utah-Jazz-Summer-League...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Ink BYU Star Yoeli Childs To Summer League Roster

The Utah Jazz have added former BYU Cougars forward and Salt Lake City Stars member Yoeli Childs to their summer league roster.
20 hours ago
Utah-Jazz-Summer-League-Roster-Johnny-Juzang...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Adding Names To Summer League Roster

With a busy July right around the corner, here are the names the Utah Jazz have added to the summer league rosters already. 
20 hours ago
Kofi-Cockburn-Utah-Jazz...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Sign Illinois Giant Kofi Cockburn After Draft

The Utah Jazz have reportedly signed Illinois center Kofi Cockburn to a contract after the conclusion of the 2022 NBA Draft. 
20 hours ago
Utah-Jazz-Johnny-Juzang...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Sign UCLA Wing Johnny Juzang To Two-Way Deal

The Utah Jazz are signing Johnny Juzang to a two-way contract after the UCLA wing went unselected in the 2022 NBA Draft per ESPN.
2 days ago
2022-NBA-Draft-Board...
Ben Anderson

Jazz Stand Pat, Don’t Trade Into Draft

After weeks of rumors leading up to the NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz stood pat, and didn't acquire either a first or second-round selection. 
2 days ago
Rudy Gobert - Utah Jazz - City Edition...
Ben Anderson

Gobert To Play Fan 1-V-1 To Celebrate Birthday At Home

Rudy Gobert is planning to celebrate his birthday by playing one-on-one basketball with one lucky Utah Jazz fan
2 days ago
Shaq: Jazz Biggest Threat To Lakers In West