Donovan Mitchell Addresses Relationship with Rudy Gobert, Racial Injustice, Orlando Return
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Donovan Mitchell addressed his relationship with Rudy Gobert, the blowback he faced for his social media posts regarding social injustice, and his readiness for resuming the NBA season in Orlando. Mitchell hadn’t spoken publically since the NBA’s hiatus on March 11, when both he and Gobert became the first two NBA players to publicly test positive for COVID-19.
The guard spent the hiatus in his family’s Connecticut home as he recovered from the virus. Mitchell was among several Jazz teammates spotted training in California for the NBA’s return before traveling to Utah to undergo individual workouts.
Mitchell and Gobert’s Relationship
Soon after both Mitchell and Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, reports emerged that the relationship between the two players was unsalvageable. On Thursday, Mitchell denied the report.
“I wasn’t happy at the beginning this,” Mitchell said. “I’ve said that publicly. There’s no secret to that. So for me, I’m not going to continue addressing something that I didn’t feel was true. Obviously, we had the article that came out with — What’s his name? Shams [Charania]? You know, and everyone saw that, and I just to be honest with you, and no disrespect to you guys, but it’s like, I’m not trying to give things clicks just to have a story.”
The Jazz have reassembled in Salt Lake City as they prepare to depart for Orlando next week.
“Right now, we’re good,” The guard said. “We’re going out there ready to hoop. And I think the biggest thing that kind of sucked was that it took away from the guys on the team.”
As reports spread of Mitchell and Gobert’s relationship, the All-Star teammate’s relationship before COVID-19 fell under the microscope. Mitchel said the relationship was commonplace in the NBA.
“You look at all great — or all duo’s, or whatever it may be, there’s going to be tension,” Mitchell said. “There’s going to be back and forth. You know, obviously, I feel like I should be right here, [Gobert] should feel like he should be right there. But that’s always going to happen. That happens on every team, doesn’t matter. If they win championships or they’re a last-place team, it’s always gonna happen”
Black Lives Matter Posts
After the death of George Floyd led to ongoing protests across the country, Mitchell the Jazz shared social media posts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Though most of the replies were supportive, both Mitchell and the team received vitriolic responses on the post.
“Hopefully this conversation opens a lot of eyes, especially here in Utah,” Mitchell said. “There’s a certain stigma, there’s no secret about that about Utah. And the comments didn’t help.”
Mitchell continued the conversation on Twitter by calling out responders who considered themselves fans of the team.
“Said it once and I’ll keep saying it!!” Mitchell tweeted. “Y’all can’t hide no more.”
Though many of the negative comments came from Instagram accounts located in Utah, Mitchell said the problem doesn’t live in just one state.
“It’s tough to see as an African American male,” Mitchell said of the responses. “Because not only just what happens in Utah — I understand it’s not just a Utah thing. And I want people to understand that. It’s not like it’s just Utah, it happens everywhere.”
The guard says he and many of his NBA companions plan to continue to address racial inequality as they resume the season in Orlando.
“Guys have voices,” Mitchell said. “And I think we’re going to do a great job. We go down and have the guys one through 15 let their voices be heard.”
Comfort Returning To The Floor
Though Mitchell has returned to practice and was seen competing in California with his teammates, he said he remains concerned about the risk of injury when returning to action.
Mitchell is on the verge of singing a maximum level extension with the Jazz this coming offseason and could put that in jeopardy with a major injury.
“The biggest thing we’re coming back is injury,” Mitchell said. “Not having played for like 120 days or something like that, just being at a complete halt, and then kind of going right into games that matter.”
The NBA has created insurance plans to protect players like Mitchell in case of injury, though the risk remains as the guard resumes the season. Despite the money, Mitchell contests his biggest concern is an injury.
“The contractual implication for myself, that’s no secret,” Mitchell said. “But that’s my biggest concern. Because you go from sitting down really, and obviously there’s working out, but there’s a difference when playing five on five games as opposed to playing in practice.”
The Jazz reopen the NBA season when they face off against the New Orleans Pelicans on July 30. The broadcast beings at 6:30 pm EST, and is broadcast on TNT and AT&T SportsNet.