Donovan Mitchell reflects on time in Utah ahead of game one vs Jazz: ‘It just took away my energy’

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United States

No NBA city is perfect, but the one market that consistently seems to cause problems between players and fans is Salt Lake City. The Utah Jazz have played there for over four decades, but a common thread throughout that time has been players expressing frustration with the fanbase’s actions there. Both Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant have had encounters with these fans in recent years, but even players from Utah themselves have struggled with their interactions with them.

Donovan Mitchell is one such player. He spent the first five seasons of his career in Utah, but now that he’s a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’s open about how he was treated by fans in his original NBA city.

“It’s no secret that I got into a lot of things while I was in Utah,” Mitchell told Andscaped’s Marc J. Spears. “If I’m honest with you, I never really said that, but it was exhausting. It just drained my energy just because you can’t sit in your room and cheer me on and then do all these different things. I’m not saying every fan specifically, but I just feel like there were a lot of things [Utah] state senator [Stuart Adams] say I need to educate myself about my own black history. Seeing black kids being bullied because of the color of their skin. see a little girl [Isabella Tichenor] hang herself for being bullied.”

Now set in more eclectic Cleveland, Mitchell called it “a blessing to be around people who look like me again.” He also shared the story of a particularly stressful interaction with a police officer. “I got pulled over once. I got a hold from a cop until I gave him my ID,” Mitchell explained. “And that has forever left me wondering what happens to the young black kid in Utah who doesn’t have the strength to just say, ‘This is me.’ And that was one of the things that I took to heart.”

Unfortunately, racism exists in every NBA market and pretty much everywhere in the United States. It cannot be avoided entirely. But Mitchell’s stories about Utah are hardly limited to his experiences there. Many players have expressed problems with fans in Salt Lake City. Mitchell is happy to have found a new home, but it’s unfortunate that he had to deal with these issues in the first place.

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