A tense exchange occurred between Utah Jazz standout Donovan Mitchell and Inside the NBA‘s Shaquille O’Neal on Thursday night following Utah’s 129-118 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Mitchell, fresh off of a 36-point outing, had the big man say he didn’t have what it took to take his game to “the next level,” and he responded by getting pretty upset, noting that he’s heard that from the day he walked into the league.
It was rather odd to hear Shaq say something like that after Mitchell had a big game — in particular because he’d been beefing with Mitchell’s teammate, Rudy Gobert, in recent days — but there were some folks who questioned why Mitchell wasn’t a big fan of hearing something like that from someone who has won everything there is to win in the league, including four championships.
In fact, that question — to paraphrase, why aren’t current players receptive to criticism from legends — got asked by Cuffs the Legend on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, and two of the league’s most respected veterans decided to chime in: LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
— Rod Bridgers (@rod_bridgers) January 22, 2021
James and Durant are no stranger to getting critiques from older players throughout their careers for various reasons, so it is interesting that they chimed in and made clear that guys who are out of the league don’t always have the most positive impact when they offer up criticisms in some form or fashion.
They, of course, did not specifically mention the Mitchell and Shaq exchange, but that’s the sort of thing that seems to pop up every now and then — an older player, either in good faith or some other reason, says something that rubs a current player the wrong way, and we get a news cycle out of the exchange. At the very least, those players in the Mitchell camp can probably take some solace in knowing two of the league’s current elder statesmen appear have their back when this sort of thing goes down.