Shaquille O'Neal is known as one of the most dominant forces and charismatic personalities the NBA has ever seen during his playing days. That combination made him one of the most popular and beloved players amongst fans all around the world. But after transitioning into his post-playing career of being an analyst for TNT and a crucial member of the Inside the NBA crew, his image and reputation have changed quite a bit.
Although he is a great laugh, the constant flashes of egoism and unwarranted criticism got him a lot of hate and beefs with numerous NBA players like JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Rudy Gobert, and most recently Donovan Mitchell. Shaq made headlines for all the wrong reasons after criticizing the young Utah Jazz star during the season, even though his team was dominating the league at the time. In an awkward post-game interview, Shaq would straight up tell Donovan he doesn't have what it takes to take the Jazz to the next level. Pretty harsh, but Shaq later defended himself by saying he was just trying to motivate Mitchell to get even better.
That didn't stop the media and fans from coming after Shaq and labeling him a hater. Something that is pretty common to see in today's world of sensitivity and so-called "Cancel Culture." Well, Shaq talked about that and how the NBA has become very soft recently on the "FULL SEND PODCAST," using the situation with Donovan Mitchell as an example:
"Very. Very sensitive. Very soft. Very political. And I hate this term. But people say this is the era we live in, so we have to accept it. One thing I will not accept it is, ok play being looked at as great play. I ain't letting that s--t slide ever. I've been through the era of Mike, Charles, Malone, Stockton, all these great guys, so I know what greatness looks like. I said something about Donovan Mitchell one time and everybody start bashing me. But they not listening to what I'm saying. What I'm saying is I played with Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, D-Wade, LeBron James, Steve Nash. If you ain't on that level, I don't know what great is. He is a really good player, on his way. But to try to crown him as the next...If I'm not number 1 or number 2, don't bring my name up ever."
Shaquille O'Neal, FULL SEND PODCAST
You can't dismantle Shaq's statement, as he did come up in the early '90s of the NBA, giving him the chance to see some of the league's biggest stars first-hand. Also, Shaq switched numerous teams throughout his career, allowing him to play with and against some of the best players ever. That way, Shaq was given a perfect and detailed look into what greatness looks like. So for him to say that Donovan Mitchell is not yet at that level is perfectly valid, even though he could have constructed his words a lot better. That way, Shaq could have gotten his point across without offending Donovan and his whole fan base. But like Shaq said, today's NBA is very soft, sensitive, and political, leaving no space for the most minor slip-ups.