Donovan Mitchell In Players Tribune: Know What I Stand For

Aug 5, 2020, 11:32 AM | Updated: 11:40 am
Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz - Boston Celtics...
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz warms up before a game against the Boston Celtics at Vivint Smart Home Arena on February 26, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Donovan Mitchell released another article for The Players Tribune. The Utah Jazz guard reflected on his time spent in quarantine after he and teammate Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming “patience zero” as the NBA was shutting down around them. The All-Star guard said he spent the moments immediately following the suspension of the Jazz March 11 game reflecting on the deeper meaning of his life. That followed him back to his mother’s house after his positive test. Those thoughts continued to unfold after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis Police custody on May 25.

“I was already feeling that way in March, and the murder of George Floyd only strengthened that conviction,” Mitchell wrote. “With the league back, and the world watching, we simply cannot be silent.”

Mitchell said he spent the majority of his time in quarantine playing video games. But Call of Duty and NBA 2k can only distract one from the anxiety-filled moments of life for so long.

“Once your head hits the pillow, it’s just you and all these thoughts that you’ve been ignoring for the last few years, when it was go, go, go,” Mitchell said.

“That time allowed me to really take a hard look at my life. It allowed me to think about who I want to be. Not as an NBA player, but as a human being. And a big part of that for me is to be honest about how I feel about what’s going on in this country, no matter how certain people may feel about it.”

Mitchell Finding His Voice In Players Tribune

As a result of Mitchell’s time away from basketball, he’s taking a more vigilant approach towards using his voice to stand up for what he believes in. But Mitchell says using his voice is about more than just sharing his thoughts. The Jazz guard wants to join his fellow NBA stars in representing those who may not share his platform.

“They’re speaking for the kids in the Bronx or in Chicago or in Compton who don’t have that platform,” Mitchell said about LeBron James, Damian Lillard, and James Harden who have used their voices to support social justice issues. “One thing that I realized during all this time away was that it’s my responsibility to speak up for the kids who don’t have the opportunities that I had growing up.”

Mitchell grew up in a unique situation. The Jazz guard when to a predominantly white private school, and had mostly white friends growing up. Despite having a different upbringing than most NBA players, Mitchell said he wasn’t immune to racial stereotyping by members of authority in his life.

At Louisville, where Mitchell attended college, the guard and a group of teammates were pulled over by a white police officer. While Mitchell was concerned about how the interaction would unfold, he said his identity as a basketball player deescalated the situation.

The officer told Mitchell and his teammates he was letting them go because he had been a fan of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. That led Mitchell to question how the stop would have gone had he not been wearing his college gear.

“If we weren’t wearing that Cardinal on our chest, does it go a different way?” Mitchell asked. “All of a sudden, are we sitting on the curb? All of a sudden, are we getting cuffed? All of a sudden, is there a problem? Is there a threat?”

Jazz coach Quin Snyder said he’s happy to see his young star find his voice on important issues.

“One of the things that’s really significant about that article is Donovan’s ability to kind of to articulate how he’s feeling,” Snyder said. “I think it was really healthy for him to be able to do that. And I think for a lot of people that read that article they have a better understanding of who Donovan is.”

Know What I Stand For

While Mitchell and the Jazz are competing for a deep playoff run in Orlando, the Jazz guard has been outspoken on issues of social injustice. The Jazz guard has used both his social platforms and his opportunity during media availability to call for the arrest of the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor.

Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot had killed in her home by Louisville police officers who served a no-knock warrant in search of two men suspected of selling drugs. Taylor was not involved with the case and no drugs were found in her apartment.

Now, Mitchell is asking his fans to recognize what he stands for before they put on his jersey and yell his name.

“I love Utah. I love the Jazz. I love all my fans. I love the game of basketball,” Mitchell wrote in The Players Tribune. “But if you’re rocking my jersey while we’re going for the title, do me a favor and don’t just shout out my name. If you’re rocking my jersey, shout out, “Justice for Breonna Taylor.”

Snyder, who has also been an outspoken proponent of social justice over the last few months was happy to see Mitchell get to share his passion with members of the Jazz fan base.

“He did have an opportunity to share with people in Utah how appreciative he is of their support,” Snyder said. “How he feels about his teammates, how he feels about the Jazz, how he feels about the state. I think more than anything he just wants people to know that there’s more to him.”

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