"I never hate, I just try to give constructive criticism. My whole career I've been a leader and I motivate my players a certain way. So, you're welcome Utah."
Shaquille O'Neal made this quote in reference to his criticism of Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell on January 21 after the Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans 129-118. He said to Mitchell, "I've said tonight that you're one of my favorite players, but you don't have what it takes to get to the next level...What do you have to say about that?"
We'll tell you what we have to say about that. Donovan Mitchell was, and still is an elite NBA player.
According to StatMuse, before Shaq's comment, Mitchell was averaging 24-points per game, 4-rebounds per game, and 5-assists per game.
Since then, Mitchell has averaged 24-points per game, 5-rebounds per game, and 5-assists per game.
Could he be referring to Mitchell's leadership ability? Nope. Mitchell's leadership is easily seen, and with the help of his leadership, the Utah Jazz have been playing extremely well this year.
At the time that Shaq made his comments, the Jazz had just won their seventh game in a row and were 11-4 on the year. A record that was good enough to be tied for second place in the NBA.
Since his original comment, the Jazz are 9-1 and have moved into first place in the NBA.
Not much has changed since that day in January. The Jazz continue to be on fire as a team, and Donovan Mitchell has continued to impress when he's on the floor.
Mitchell and company have seemed self-motivated and dominant for long before the snarky comments were made. And the scary part is: They don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
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