Mitchell Not Concerned With Jazz All-Star Draft Slight
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz were represented by four members of the franchise at All-Star media Sunday morning. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley will all play in the game this evening, while coach Quin Snyder and his Jazz staff will oversee Team LeBron during the event.
Jazz players were asked about a variety of topics during their availability, from being the first team to experienced the coronavirus pandemic within their own locker room, having multiple teammates competing in the All-Star game, to their thoughts on Gobert and Mitchell being selected last in the All-Star draft.
The Jazz are the most well-represented team at the event between their four members. The Brooklyn Nets also had three players named to the All-Star game, though Kevin Durant will not play due to injury.
Jazz Not Worried About All-Star Draft Slight
As mentioned, Mitchell was the last selection in the All-Star for Team Durant, which pushed teammate Gobert to the final draft spot on Team LeBron.
After James said the reason the two Jazz players were picked last was that neither he nor Durant grew up playing with the Jazz in video games, Gobert poked fun at the superstar by wearing a shirt featuring John Stockton and Karl Malone from the popular NBA Jam video franchise.
Mitchell took a slightly different approach.
“At the end of the day, I made it to the All-Star game, Rudy made it, Coach made it, Mike made it, we’re here,” Mitchell said. “If I got picked last first, I’m definitely blessed to be a part of this and a sign of the work that our team has put in.”
Mitchell noted that Gobert wears the number 27 on his jersey to remember that he was selected 27th in the draft, a nod to the teams that passed on the two-time defensive player of the year.
The Jazz guard also said he knows he’d been overlooked his whole life and doesn’t need the recognition of his fellow players to achieve his goals.
“I don’t really think this affected us and we don’t really play this game to seek the approval of [LeBron James], or anyone else,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to go out there and try and win a game and win a championship, that’s the goal.”
Conley Nearly Missed His All-Star Call
Conley was the final addition to the Western Conference All-Star roster after Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker backed out of the game with an injury. The Jazz guard is making his All-Star debut in his 14th season, the latest of any player in NBA history, and said he nearly missed the call informing him that he’d been selected.
“It was unreal,” Conley said. “I was back at home in Columbus, Ohio and we were at the dinner table with the family and I started to get a bunch of calls on my phone from numbers I didn’t know so I just kept canceling them.”
Conley wasn’t selected as a reserve by the league’s coaches and was again overlooked when NBA commissioner Adam Silver chose Booker to replace Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis was also ruled out for the game.
Friday night, Conley finally earned the honor he’d long-awaited. After receiving a text from Jazz management that he should answer the calls he’d been avoiding, he got the good news.
“I called the number back and he was like, ‘Hey Mike got some good news, there’s a spot available in Three-Point Contest and the All-Star game,” Conley said. “All I heard was Three-Point Contest.”
After recognizing he’d be taking part in both events, he was quickly on his way to Atlanta.
“I was like, ‘Shoot I am doing nothing,'” Conley joked. “I’m sitting with my family, I’m on the first thing smoking.”
Conley will be playing alongside Mitchell with Team Durant and will go head-to-head with Snyder and Gobert on Team LeBron.
Gobert’s Grace Under Fire
Gobert continues to show incredible patience with the media regarding his coronavirus diagnosis. The anniversary of the league’s suspension is on March 11, and as a result, Gobert was persistently asked about his role as the first player to acquire the virus in the NBA.
Considering some players’ unwillingness to talk about their personal lives altogether, much less about something that has caused so much personal grief, Gobert’s willingness to answer questions honestly and thoughtfully is a testament to his maturity and growth over the last 12 months.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving who has a strenuous relationship with the media at best skipped today’s mandatory sessions. The guard was fined $25,000 earlier this season for refusing to speak during the Nets’ first scheduled media day in December.
The full extent of Gobert’s symptoms after being diagnosed are unknown, but he said he hadn’t experienced the same issues that fellow NBA stars like Jayson Tatum have mentioned which have limited their abilities on the floor.
“If you had asked me to play in April it probably would have been different,” Gobert said.
Snyder Praises Players, Assistants
As has become a tradition for Snyder, he used his availability to deflect any praise on himself towards his players and assistant coaches.
Snyder will be joined on the sideline by his staff at the game, a nice point of recognition for a group that hadn’t spent much time together before this season.
“I think our current staff, I feel like it’s one of the best staffs’ in the league,” Snyder said. “And that really goes to the improvement of our team. Our players have really been committed to getting better and developing. I think they’ve done that individually, and they’ve done it within the system.”
Both Mitchell and Conley will take part in the Three-Point Shooting Contest which begins at 4:30 pm MT. The All-Star game begins at 6 pm MT on TNT.