After getting hammered for his cringe interview with Donovan Mitchell, Shaquille O’Neal tried to spin his way out of the situation by saying he was only doing it to “test the temperature,” and that was his way of challenging Spida to be the best version of himself.
First of all, this is not about respect. I know what I’m doing when I’m trying to get my guys to play a certain way. The way they’re playing right now — you’re welcome.
It’s a generational thing. Players are always trying to earn respect from legends of the game, and Shaq believes that as a 3x NBA champion, he has the “G14 classification” to demand more. The same way he wanted to impress Michael Jordan or David Robinson, Shaq believes he can issue challenges for guys like Mitchell. The thing is, no-one has a problem with the concept of challenging players to be even better – it was the way he did it that got out of hand.
Shaq being Shaq, there’s a lot of trolling mixed with the call for greatness. We had the Instagram episode, then Shaq trying to explain his way out of it, and the political episode when lawmakers from Utah made fun of Shaq with a House resolution. As if he’s a Reddit investor, while many people were selling the stock, O’Neal waited them out and decided to buy the dip. Last night, he doubled down on his “investment.”
The Jazz were playing the Celtics last night, and Mitchell went to halftime with 12 points. Shaq was asked about Donovan, and he said it was all a plan to get him to play on the level he’s been playing since. Spida finished the game with 36/4/9 and 2 blocks. Everyone expected Shaq to finally give the young man some props when Shaq did this.
Shaq: I stand by what I said. I said he’s the fifth-best guard in the league! Parker: But you also said Westbrook was better than Donovan, and that’s where I brought in career vs. this season.
Shaq: And I stand by that too. I’ll say it on national TV; I’ll tweet it, I’ll debate it. Yes, he is.
Parker: I’m not saying career; I’m saying this season.
Shaq: I don’t go by this season because this season ain’t over yet. … I like Donovan, but I don’t marvel over the 5th best player. I marvel over Steph Curry, Kyrie.Inside the NBA
Candace was visibly annoyed by Shaq at this point, and it was hilarious to watch. She was trying to have a serious conversation, and all Shaq did was double down on his trolling. Westbrook’s having a horrible season on the worst team in the East, while Mitchell leads the best team in the West. There’s no way anyone with a brain takes Westbrook over Mitchell this year.
I’m gonna stop doing what Parker did – this isn’t about arguments. This is Shaq being Shaq, stirring stuff up and preparing what he thinks is a win-win. If the Jazz wins, he’ll say, “You’re welcome, Utah.” If they lose, he’ll say “I told you he still isn’t on that level”
But if he wants to be this generation’s MJ or David Robinson, Shaq can’t say Westbrook is better than Mitchell. You can’t be the clown and the scholar. Shaq will go for the comedy/entertainment route from everything we know, and I don’t mind it at all.