Shaquille O’Neal is paid to offer his analysis and thoughts on the NBA and that often includes criticizing teams or players. Last week O’Neal delivered a stinging critique of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, suggesting the 24-year-old All-Star doesn’t have what it takes to lead the Jazz beyond just making the playoffs.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant responded to O’Neal’s comments. But those comments pale into comparison to what an Utah state legislator had to say in proposed legislation that defended Mitchell and took repeated shots at O’Neal, including a mention of the low Rotten Tomatoes rating on his movie Kazaam.
Shaquille O’Neal criticizes Donovan Mitchell
Last week Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of TNT’s Inside the NBA crew had a discussion about Donovan Mitchell at halftime of the Utah Jazz-New Orleans Pelicans game. The consensus was Mitchell is good, but not a superstar capable of taking his team deep in the playoffs.
After the game, O’Neal spoke with Mitchell and told him what was said at halftime in what turned out to be a very awkward interview.
“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,” O’Neal told the fourth-year player. “I said it on purpose because I wanted you to hear it. What do you have to say about that?”
“Aight. That’s it,” Mitchell abruptly replied. “Shaq, I’ve been hearing that since my rookie year. I’m just going to get better, do what I do.”
LeBron James and Kevin Durant call out Shaquille O’Neal in defense of Donovan Mitchell
The uncomfortable exchange between Shaquille O’Neal and Donovan Mitchell made headlines. All the sports talk shows were talking about it. Not surprisingly, numerous NBA players had their own opinions on the situation, including a couple of the game’s biggest stars in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
“There’s a difference between constructive criticism and soft hating though. I’ve seen it both ways come my way, mostly the hate. You can hear it in their delivery,” James said on Instagram.
Kevin Durant, who has had some contentious exchanges of his own with O’Neal in the past, chimed in as well.
“Them old heads need to go enjoy retirement,” Durant said on Instagram. “These boys have coaches they work with everyday lol.”
Utah politician introduces bill slamming O’Neal and praising Mitchell
While Donovan Mitchell had his share of defenders, none of them delivered a rebuttal to O’Neal’s comments quite as eloquently and lengthy as Utah State Representative Kera Birkeland, who introduced legislation on Tuesday that hammered the Hall of Fame center on a variety of fronts.
In H.R. 3, or the “House Resolution Honoring Donovan Mitchell Over Shaquille O’Neal,” Birkeland creatively retorted O’Neal’s claims.
“WHEREAS, the claim by Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) on January 21, 2021, that Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell Jr. (Donovan) doesn’t have what it takes to get to the next level is even less accurate than his 50.4% playoff free-throw percentage (slightly worse than Donovan’s 88.1%),” the legislation declared.
Birkeland mentions the times the Jazz eliminated the Lakers from the playoffs with O’Neal on the roster, and credits Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade for carrying the clubs when he won NBA titles. The legislation also targeted O’Neal’s life outside of basketball.
“WHEREAS, Kazaam has a 5% rating on rotten tomatoes. WHEREAS, Shaq under-develops his hot takes almost as well as his 1990’s “Shaq Fu” video game.”
Birkeland, who praised Mitchell throughout the resolution for his play and work in the community, concluded by suggesting that the state consider making the “Spida” the official state arachnid. She then finished with Mitchell’s now familiar response to O’Neal.
“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED Aight. That’s it.”
In a time when politics are so divisive, it’s nice to see some politicians still have a sense of humor.