Resolution ‘honoring Donovan Mitchell over Shaquille O’Neal’ passes in Utah House of Representatives by 67-5 vote

Rep. Kera Birkeland’s resolution also proposes making ‘Spida’ the official state arachnid

(Photos courtesy of Utah House Republicans/Twitter) Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, right, introduces a resolution in support of Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell on the floor of the Utah House of Representatives, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, left, wears a Mitchell jersey during the resolution vote.

Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, introduced a resolution Tuesday that seeks to “recognize the exemplary service of Donovan Mitchell to the Utah Jazz” and also “suggests consideration of making the ‘Spida’ the official state arachnid.”

The House’s vote comes days after Shaquille O’Neal criticized Mitchell following a Jazz victory against the New Orleans Pelicans, telling Mitchell “you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level,” as the Lakers’ hall of famer began his “Inside the NBA” interview.

H.R. 3, entitled “House Resolution Honoring Donovan Mitchell over Shaquille O’Neal,” references O’Neal’s free-throw shooting percentage, the Rotten Tomatoes rating of the movie “Kazaam,” two Jazz series victories over the Lakers in 1997 and 1998, and the Shaq Fu video game.

“I think it is appropriate for the great state of Utah to award Shaquille O’Neal with a technical foul,” said Birkeland, wearing a referee shirt as she spoke the House floor.

“We are not talking about 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2006 right now, the years in which Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Dwayne Wade’s Miami Heat won championships for Shaq,” the resolution notes.

The resolution, in addition to denigrating O’Neal, also advocates for Mitchell’s on and off-court achievements.

“Whereas, although Shaq’s ‘skill’ was being bigger than everyone else, Donovan has progressively succeeded through talent, dedication, and constant effort,” the resolution says.

At the end of the introductory remarks, the resolution resolves to recognize Mitchell’s service, asks the state’s House of Representatives to consider making “Spida” the official state arachnid, and further states “Aight. That’s it.” at the end of the text.

But Birkeland met resistance from a handful of state lawmakers, who argued that O’Neal was a master of mind games and urged their colleagues not to take the bait.

”Not only has he gotten into the head of Donovan Mitchell, but I’m sure everyone who votes yes on this, he would rent some space in your head, as well,” House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said. “But I do support our Jazz. I do support Donovan Mitchell.”

”Blah, blah, blah,” retorted House Speaker Brad Wilson, who was sporting a Jazz jersey. The resolution sailed through the chamber by a vote of 67-5.

Birkeland, from Morgan, represents parts of Daggett, Duchesne, Morgan, Rich and Summit counties. She was appointed to the position by former Gov. Gary Herbert in April after former Rep. Logan Wilde resigned to become the commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Birkeland was elected by a 63/36 margin over Democrat Cheryl Butler in November.

Bethany Rodgers contributed reporting to this story.