Shaquille O'Neal's Awkward Exchange With Donovan Mitchell Watched Over 1 Million Times

Since swapping the court for the broadcast studio, Shaquille O'Neal has never been afraid to speak his mind, no matter how controversial his opinions on the game may be.

The four-time NBA champion lived up to his reputation on Thursday night, telling Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell he was one of his favorite players, while simultaneously bluntly criticizing his game and suggesting Mitchell lacked the talent to elevate himself to the "next level."

The awkward exchange, which lasted just 30 seconds, unfolded as O'Neal interviewed Mitchell from the NBA on TNT studio after the Jazz's 129-118 home win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The clip immediately went viral and at the time of writing had racked up one million combined views across three Twitter accounts.

"I said tonight you're one of my favorite players but you don't have what it takes to get to the next level," the three-time NBA Finals MVP began. "I said it on purpose and I want you hear it. What do you have to say about that?"

“I’ve been hearing that since my rookie year.”

Spida responds to Shaq’s criticism.

— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 22, 2021

Donovan's response when Shaq tells him he doesn't have what it takes to get to the next level:


— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2021

The Shaq-Donovan Mitchell exchange was awkward. lol

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 22, 2021

Mitchell, who at this point appeared on a split screen alongside the former Los Angeles Lakers star, allowed himself a rather rueful smile before laconically replying: "Alright, that's it."

To his credit, whereas some of his colleagues may have removed headphones and declared the interview over, the Jazz guard didn't walk away and braced himself for another salvo. He didn't have to wait long.

"That's it? OK, cool. I want you to hear it," O'Neal continued.

If Mitchell was bothered by criticism, he didn't let it show and in fact suggested it was simply par for the course and has been since he was selected as the 13th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.

"I mean, I have been hearing it since my rookie year. I'm just gonna get better and do what I do," he replied.

O'Neal eventually appeared to mellow as the exchange came to an end, praising Mitchell's response and hinting he expects him to be motivated by criticism.

"Good, that's what I wanted to hear you say. Love your game, brother. Keep it up."

Mitchell top scored for the Jazz on Thursday night, finishing with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists as Utah racked up a seventh consecutive win to improve to 11-4 for the season and move one game behind the Lakers, the current Western Conference leaders.

Mitchell's stock has been trending upward since he first entered the league. He made the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2018 and was selected to his first All-Star game last season, when he averaged 24 points, 4.3 assists and 4.4. rebounds per game.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz looks on during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alex Goodlett/Getty