In choosing teams for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, team captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant drew attention when they made the two available Jazz players, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, as the final draft picks.
James rationalized his decision by saying, “You guys have to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played Utah.” That explanation drew ire from Jazz fans, though Mitchell dismissed James’s comments ahead of the All-Star holiday on Sunday.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t really care …” Mitchell said, by Sarah Todd from the Deseret News. “People have been talking shit about me for a while … we are not doing this to seek their approval.”
In the team’s last game before halftime, the Jazz lost an overtime thriller to the 76ers, during which Mitchell was sent off. After the game, Mitchell and Gobert were adamant in their criticism of umpiring, ultimately leading to each player being fined by the league.
“It’s hard to go out and see how we fight and compete and have a game like that taken away from us,” Mitchell said in his postgame interview with the media. “And never, never, will I blame a referee, an official … But this is getting out of control.”
The Jazz are currently at the top of the Western Conference standings, 3.5 games ahead of the Lakers, who are in third place. The Suns are the second seeded and trailing Utah by 2.5 games.