SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – For the first time since the NBA season was suspended back in March, Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell addressed the media about a wide variety of topics.
First and foremost, Mitchell talked about his relationship with fellow All-Star Rudy Gobert, whom Mitchell admitted he was upset with after they became the first two NBA players to test positive for the coronavirus.
“Right now we’re good,” Mitchell said. “We’re going out there getting ready to hoop. It’s no secret that I wasn’t happy at the beginning. I’ve said that publicly. There’s no secret to that.”
But Mitchell said he didn’t feel the need to assuage Jazz fans fear that he and Gobert were fighting.
“I could have easily gone back and forth with whoever on Twitter and kind of addressed it,” Mitchell said. “But I was like, there’s no need for that. My teammates and my coaches know how I feel. There are moments where you are just tired of hearing it over and over. I was tired of addressing it going, that’s not true, and I know this is not true. Then you find yourself all over Twitter calling out people for no reason, so I just left it and addressed with with my teammates.”
While Mitchell and Gobert might not be best friends, that’s also not necessary to win a championship.
“Not to compare it to Shaq and Kobe,” Mitchell said. “But you look at all great duos or whatever it may be, and for us, there is going to be tension and there’s going to be back and forth. You’re not going to always get along or go out to eat or hang out with your teammates. So, that’s that.”
As for the negative comments Mitchell received on Instagram and Twitter from fans about his post on Juneteenth when he posted “Free-ish since 1865,” it definitely bothered Mitchell. But he hopes to be a leader here in Utah in the fight for racial and social justice.
“I think it opened a lot of eyes to be honest with you,” Mitchell said. “It’s easy for people to say don’t read them. It’s tough when there is outrageous and crazy comments. Then you click on to see and it’s not like they’re bots. They are people who live not only here, but in different places. I spoke out about it especially here because I live here and I play here. I think to see that after understanding that the same people that were saying what they were saying, were the same ones coming in celebrating and cheering. I think that’s where I was, and I’m not going to lie to you, pretty pissed off. Hopefully this conversation opens a lot of eyes, especially here in Utah because there is a certain stigma. There’s no secret about that here in Utah. Obviously the comments didn’t help, but for us as athletes, we wanted it to be known that we won’t stand for any of the racism and whatever else comes with that.”
The Jazz are still discussing what they will do in Orlando to make their voices heard.
“We use our platform not just for what we do on the court, but for what we do off the floor,” Mitchell said. “As a league, we really have to make a statement. We’re working on a bunch of things that I can’t really say right now, but I think there are a lot of things that are going to come out of us being down there in that bubble.
As for being in that bubble, Mitchell is concerned about the possible spread of the virus in the NBA bubble, but his biggest worry about restarting the season is the risk of injury.
“For not having played for 120 days or something like that and being at a complete halt,” Mitchell said. “Then, to go right into games that matter. If I do play, I’m ready to go. It’s not like I’m behind the eight ball or anything like that. But my biggest concern is the injury aspect. Obviously there are contractual implications for myself. That’s no secret as well, but that’s my biggest concern.”
The Jazz will restart the NBA season July 30th against New Orleans.