LeBron James had some words for Inside the NBA analyst and Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal for his criticism of Donovan Mitchell.
Shaq became a major talking point recently when he decided to take a shot at Utah Jazz star during an interview.
O’Neal told the young All-Star that he didn’t believe he had what it takes to “get to the next level.” Things got awkward as Mitchell was clearly taken aback by the comments.
“You are one of my favorite players but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level,” Shaq told the young star. “I said it on purpose — I wanted you to hear it.”
“Right,” Mitchell responds. “Shaq, I’ve been hearing that since my rookie year. I’m just gonna do what I do at the end of the day.”
It seems unlikely that O’Neal meant for the comments to come off as mean as they did but the interview certainly led to some backlash for the Hall of Famer.
On an Instagram post defending O’Neal for his comments, current Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made it clear that he didn’t appreciate what was said.
“There’s a difference between constructive criticism and soft hating though,” LeBron wrote. “I’ve seen it both ways come my way, mostly the hate. You can hear it in their delivery.”
James has without a doubt been the recipient of his fair share of hate from former players throughout his career so he understands what Mitchell is going through. It’s certainly possible that Shaq was just trying to help motivate the young star but it didn’t really come off that way.
Kevin Durant Responds to Shaq’s Comments In Addition to LeBron James
In an Instagram post by the user CuffsThe Legend, he asks fans why newer generation NBA players are “so sensitive.” He got a reply in kind for his condescending comments, both James and Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant.
“Them old heads need to go enjoy retirement. These boys have coaches they work with every day lol,” Durant commented.
The Nets star seems to imply that Mitchell and other young players already have more than enough feedback from their respective coaching staffs. Durant evidently doesn’t think that they need any external ‘mentor’ to explain how and where they need to get better.
The questionable part about O’Neal’s decision to go after Mitchell was the fact that it came shortly after he led his team to a win and scored 36 points. In addition, the Utah Jazz are only half a game behind the Lakers for the top seed in the Western Conference. Mitchell is currently averaging 24.3 points a game right now, which is a career-high for the young star.