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Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Donovan Mitchell: Don’t Like NBA Message? ‘Don’t Watch’

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As NBA players continue to use their platform as a megaphone for their call for social justice, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has a simple message for those pushing back against the league’s message — “Don’t watch.”

NBA players returned to finish their season, suspended by the coronavirus pandemic with an eye on social justice. George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in the hands of Minneapolis police in late May, leading to nationwide protests that carried into the NBA’s return.

As players’ voices have grown, so too have the voices of those who wish to see keep the equal rights messaging away from the game. For Mitchell, it’s not a position he’s willing to give up on.

“I’m just going to keep speaking from the heart,” Mitchell said, “If you don’t like it, too bad.”

Mitchell: Don’t Like Message, “Don’t Watch”

The third-year guard has been one of the most outspoken players within the NBA bubble about racial injustice. From postgame comments to customized shoes, Mitchell has not shied away from using his voice to stand up for what he believes in.

The All-Star first gained notorious blowback after posting a photo of the word “Free-ish” on his Instagram page after Floyd’s death. Mitchell’s post was met with sparse, but loud blowback from a small segment of responses opposing the message.

Now, as the NBA continues its push, that same opposition has redirected its focus on questioning the lack of commentary from players on violence elsewhere in the country, and human rights violations across the globe.

Mitchell was unapologetic is his response to those questing the league’s motives.

“Look this is our message,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been going through this for not just the past six months but for four hundred years. If they don’t want to hear it then don’t watch.”

The Jazz guard said he had a childhood mentor to thank for the manner in which he stands by his beliefs.

“I had a teacher said to me once, ‘If you want to listen or do your homework, I’m gonna do my job,'” Mitchell recalled. “It’s the same approach. I will continue to go out there and use my voice, and if they don’t want to listen and they want to continue to push back that’s on them.”

No Return To Normal

Soon, the NBA season will be over. The playoffs are set to conclude in mid-October when players will return to their families and try to regain a sense of traditional home life. But while the season will conclude, Mitchell warned that there will be no return to normal because as a Black man, Mitchell can’t leave his normal.

“This all could stop, but at the end of the day, I’m still a Black male. I think that’s something that people really don’t quite, get no matter the money or the name.”

Despite the pushback or the calls from those who want to see a return to the status quo, Mitchell said he wasn’t going to stop him from spreading his message.

“Being here, being able to play, and continuing to preach what I’ve been preaching and we’ve all been preaching, I think that’s really what we stand for,” Mitchell said. “And we don’t really care to be honest if people don’t like it. Because at the end of the day is our livelihood and what we have to go through on a daily basis.”

Fans can watch Mitchell and the Jazz retake the floor on Sunday at 6:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.