MEMPHIS (ABC4 Sports) – It was an experience Jazz players would like to forget, but may not for a long while.
After beating Memphis Wednesday night, 111-107, Jazz players described that harrowing emergency landing on Tuesday after the plane struck a flock of birds, causing an explosion in one of the engines.
“For a good 10 or 15 minutes, I think all of us on that flight were questioning if we were going to be here today,” said Mike Conley, who scored 26. points in the Jazz victory. “That’s how serious it was for us. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that guys were trying to text family just in case, you know? It was that kind of situation.
“It felt like the plane was breaking apart in midair. For five or 10 minutes, it felt like complete helplessness. We’re thankful it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, but it was scary.”
Jordan Clarkson was equally shook by the emergency landing. He said he thought the plane was going down.
“It got to that point where we were all on the plane like, ‘This might be really the end,'” Clarkson said. “It’s definitely something, an experience, that we’re happy to be able to tell. A lot of us really came to a point, at least 30 seconds in that flight, everybody came to the point where it was like, ‘Man, it might be over for us.’ It’s sad to say that. I don’t play with death or anything like that.”
Donovan Mitchell missed Wednesday’s game due to what the team termed “personal reasons.” Mitchell did not join the team on its flight from Salt Lake City to Memphis that took off hours after the emergency landing.
“I mean, it was a crazy situation,” Clarkson said. “I understand fully why Don didn’t come.”
The Jazz next host the Chicago Bulls on Friday and the Orlando Magic on Saturday. It is unclear if Mitchell will accompany the team on its next road game, Monday at Dallas.
“Everybody’s impacted in different ways, all very significant,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “And it wasn’t something that we were going to solve by just talking through everything, but I think it was important to acknowledge what we all went through, and really, that same feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the fragility that we all live with, sometimes without being aware of it.”
Having faced such a surreal and frightening experience, Clarkson said the team will support each other as they work through this.
“It’s just something that we’ve got to push through and come together and keep going, stay strong, support each other,” Clarkson said. “How much time we’ve got to take off, or talking to our mental health people or whatever it is, that’s a serious situation if you’ve never been faced with life and death.”
Clarkson was very thankful the pilots handled the situation as safely as possible after hearing the plane was turning back to Salt Lake City.
“The pilots were very calm when they got on the intercom,” Clarkson said. “Basically, telling us what happened. Saying we lost an engine. (That) we were going to be able to land somewhere. But we were all looking out the window, like ‘Man, just land this. Just land anywhere. We don’t care. We’ll check everything else later once we get on the ground. Just please put this plane on the ground.'”