At about 4:30 pm on Tuesday, as Donovan Mitchell stood in the tunnel leading from the visitors’ locker room to the Vivint Arena Court, filming his former home before the game, he suddenly and unexpectedly sneaked in. got a preview. of a video tribute the Utah Jazz planned for him.
What is his overall point? Besides biting him for ruining a surprise for him by Jazz’s content staff, is that?
“I spent a lot of time here. many It’s about the good things we saw throughout the video,” he replied. “…I could laugh and laugh seeing myself in a Denver Nuggets hat [on draft night] And talk about how I’m shivering
In fact, his only complaint was that he could have done without looking at “the messy hairdo he had when he first joined the league.”
Beyond that, the mystery of whether jazz fans will lovingly welcome or angrily reject the former star’s return to Salt Lake City is revealed just as quickly and clearly.
A video tribute that was shown before the match was enthusiastically received. And when PA voice Dan Roberts started singing, “On the guard, No. 45…” there was a round of applause. I heard little pockets of booing, but I was pretty completely overwhelmed.
The sideshow drama replied, everyone could finally, finally, get down to some real basketball.
It didn’t take long for Mitchell to give Vivint Arena’s loyal fans a taste of what they were missing after a September trade that sent him to Cleveland for three players and a future draft pick. bottom. He dropped his 12 points in the first quarter. He was 25 by halftime. He finished with 46 on 14-for-27 shooting and had 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.
Still, everyone got some of the good vibes as the Jazz made some miracles in the second half on their way to a 116-114 victory. He was disappointed, but considering who it was aimed at and everything else was going well, he really couldn’t be more upset.
“I was really comfortable. “As you know, the reception was phenomenal. I appreciate it. … But it just felt like a typical jazz night — back and forth, yelling, yelling It was amazing. Glad to be back.”
There was a bit of controversy in the leadup after Mitchell admitted last year that his defense was not up to par, with the team destined for disbanding following a lethargic playoff loss to Dallas. He said in a national interview that he found his resistance to off-court effort to be “wearing out” at times, and in Cleveland he said that He added how it was “consoling” and “refreshing” to play in front of more black fans than ever before. He got to Utah.
It produced great talk radio content and offered what turned out to be a sort of echo chamber for social media, but that was it.
Asked before the game what he expected about the atmosphere going forward, Jazz coach Will Hardy said he “always has feelings” in such situations, ultimately saying that every player in play I correctly predicted that the passions involved would be an intense battle to find the right balance.
“To be honest, it always feels like there’s a lot of noise and conversation from outside. Once the game starts, the moment the ball goes up, it’s another NBA game,” he said. “Be careful not to focus too much. He’ll be over two and a half hours after you give the information, and you’ll have to move on.”
Mitchell has also moved on, but before taking aim at critics, he either twisted his words or said it was a complete fabrication. [attributed to me on social media] What I didn’t bring up. But he also made it a point to reiterate that his critical comments were not directed at all or most of his fans.
After that, he defiantly promised to continue doing what he had been doing, no matter who was offended.
“I will continue to speak for the people you guys don’t have your camera facing forward because they don’t have that voice and they can’t speak. That’s always my intention and that’s always my intention “…I’m not going to stop using my voice the way I want it to.”
All the while, the animosity there did not extend to the participants on the court.
After the Jazz’s pregame shootaround, veteran point guard Mike Conley (one of the few remaining players to play alongside Mitchell in the Jazz jersey) described him as “a special person and one of my good friends.” One,” he said, stating that they are in a close relationship. They text and call each other frequently…anytime they don’t remember the other’s game schedule, anyway.
He added that Mitchell showed genuine enthusiasm for Utah’s great start to the season.
“He calls me after every win and jokes. I should have heard him say it after the first few weeks: ‘I knew I was the problem! I knew it was a problem!” Conley said with a laugh. “That’s his sense of humor. That kind of connection with people is great.”
As a result, he expected a pleasant evening.
“I think we laugh and joke before the game and we fight in the middle of the game,” Conley said.
That’s pretty much how it went.
Mitchell was showing off everything, but the end result was all he lacked to make jazz soar and, ultimately, an absolutely epic night for him.
Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff effectively gave Jordan Clarkson a 7-point play and did the best he could when not tearing the referee up for a flagrant foul call that completely changed the momentum of the game. praised his new star for Allow Cleveland to win.
“He was Donovan. Bickerstaff said of the All-Star guard’s performance, especially the 17-point final period.
Later, when Mitchell remained on the court, he exchanged enthusiastic hugs and words of glee with both Conley and Clarkson. He admitted that it hurts a little less when he knows he’s coming from.
He added that it’s actually not at all difficult to maintain a relationship with the two, and they’re always playing Xbox online together.
The bigger point was that you don’t maintain ties with people you don’t care about.
“You build friendships. You’re more with them than with family. You build relationships. And how much love I have for those guys shows how much you love Court.” I don’t know if even what I’ve seen in shows that,” Mitchell said. He said. “That is, there will be I never have Another game where you’re constantly hugging another guy in the middle of the game, or if it’s a 4-point game in the 4th quarter. I never have happen. ”
On his way to the locker room, he slapped himself in the chest several times and admitted to another round of cheers from the crowd. After that, he was delayed multiple times on his way to the post-match interview room.
“I know the security guards and the announcers. It was great to see them all,” Mitchell said. “I can’t say I’m relieved it’s over. God willing, I’ll be here again in a few more weeks.