Two weeks after Shaq caught flack for his awkward post-game interview with Donovan Mitchell, the Hall of Famer shed light on their interaction while talking to TNT Crew, including his former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade.
I was just testing his temperature, that’s all. Listen, ain’t nothing personal with me, trust me. Never. It ain’t never personal with me.Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
Shaq’s intentions were to provoke a positive reaction, but the delivery was awkward, to say the least. The same can be said about his back and forth with the Jazz center Rudy Gobert after he had signed a 5-year, $205 million extension. O’Neal saw it as overcompensation, mocking the message Gobert’s newly signed deal sent to future generations of players. But as he explained on TNT, even that was misinterpreted.
Regardless of posting an Instagram photo of himself dunking on Gobert, O’Neal’s intention wasn’t to deride. He did want to send a message to a future generation of big men, but instead of it coming from a place of mockery, Shaq wanted to show support, based on his experience as a youngster.
I was always overshadowed by the guards — Kenny Anderson, Jimmy Jackson, whatever. I was putting up big numbers, but I was 6-7 or taller. So when I thought about doing something else, my father brought me an article one day and said, ‘hey man, keep going, Jon Koncak, who was okay, made $15 million over three years.’ So I’m saying to all the little big guys that don’t have the followings like Mikey and all those guys, just keep doing what you do, and then, if you can come in and average this, this is the type of numbers you can get.Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
The fact neither Mitchell nor Gobert made a huge fuss about it had some people looking at them in a certain way. Even Shaq wanted the two to engage with more intense back and forth with him, to add fuel to the fire. But as D-Wade explained, the level of respect they both have for O’Neal as an NBA player is too high for them to come back at Diesel.
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.Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
To put things into perspective, the Jazz have won 12 of their last 13 games and have the best record in the association. Is it because Shaq’s methods are paying dividends — I’m not sure. But the fact he wants credit for it makes me doubtful about everything he said to Wade and the rest of the TNT crew about his interactions with Mitchell and Gobert.