Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell went off for 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a 129-118 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night. But after the game, Mitchell faced an awkward interview with Shaquille O'Neal and TNT's “Inside the NBA” crew, with Shaq bringing up the Jazz guard's inability to take his game to the next level. This came after a lengthy conversation during the halftime show about Mitchell's potential.
Mitchell didn't seem too happy with the comments, giving a simple “aight” as a response. Naturally, Mitchell's Jazz teammates stood up for their guy in the aftermath, with one of the best defenders in the league and another target of Shaq's ire, Rudy Gobert, expertly coming to Spida's defense:
Rudy Gobert, on the TNT crew saying Donovan Mitchell is not a superstar and can only score: "Whatever they want to call us, if we keep winning games, they’re gonna have to keep watching us. … Maybe all the way until July."
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) January 22, 2021
Jazz veteran Mike Conley was also peeved at the remarks:
Mike Conley on Shaq's interview with Donovan Mitchell: "I don't know how you can make a statement like that regarding his progress at such a young age."
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) January 22, 2021
Georges Niang and Miye Oni both took to Twitter to express their anger:
We live in a world where taking shots at someone for views is cool! Rather than just congratulating them on their success..! That just flat out isn’t cool!
— Georges Niang (@GeorgesNiang20) January 22, 2021
weirdo activity https://t.co/hu3Ry60DoU
— miye oni (@PrinceOni13) January 22, 2021
Mitchell himself was asked about the interview when he talked to the media later after the game, and he tried to deflect:
“We’ve won seven in a row. I hate to take a win like this and make it about me. … I’m here to play basketball and to win and to be the best teammate I can be. If they don’t like it, they don’t like it.”
As Mitchell mentioned, the Jazz are on a roll right now with their seven-game winning streak. After a somewhat uneven start to the season, Utah is 11-4 and near the top of the rugged Western Conference.
Mitchell is averaging 24.3 points, 4.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 43.8% from the field and 40.8% on 3-pointers. The Jazz star enjoyed a massive breakout in the NBA bubble, and now he's trying to get his team to that next level. He certainly has plenty of motivation now after this incident.