SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 3, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell needed some time to process what happened Tuesday after the team plane hit birds and sustained serious damage, forcing an emergency landing.
So Mitchell sat out of the next scheduled game, against the Memphis Grizzlies, he said in a virtual interview with media outlets on Friday.
Mitchell, 24, said he will be flying to the Jazz’s next game, Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.
“I know I have a job to do,” he told reporters. “I understand that (flying) comes with the job. I took the time that I needed to kind of just mentally get myself in a good place. I’ll be fine come Sunday when we fly out, but I just needed that time mentally.
“It was just a full day for me — like, ‘I can’t make that trip,’ not for a game. Some things are just bigger than the game of basketball, and that right there was it for me. Everybody kind of has their different things. Mine happens to be (fear of) flying. I just needed to take that time, because it wasn’t feeling (and) sitting right for me to go on the trip. My teammates and my coaches respected that, and I appreciate the support.
“But I understand that I have a job to do. I can’t pull a John Madden and drive everywhere. As much as I would love to, I can’t. I understand I’ve got to (fly). I’ve calmed down, and I’ll be good — should be good, at least, I think — for the rest of the season.”
Jazz guards Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson told reporters after Wednesday’s win that every passenger on the flight feared for their lives for several minutes while the pilots went through their protocols and regained control of the plane. Those aboard heard a loud boom, then extreme turbulence as the charter plane tipped to the left.
“I immediately got scared as s— because I hate flying in general and it didn’t sound good,” Mitchell told reporters later.
The pilots, busy dealing with the emergency, took 10 or more minutes before talking with passengers. Many, Mitchell among them, have said they texted family members fearing it might be there last communication with loved ones.
“There was a point where you just felt like this could be it — and the fact that it’s out of your control,” he said. “You’re kind of just watching it all go down, and you really don’t know what’s going to happen next.
“Telling everybody that you love them, and you don’t know if it’s the last time that you’re going to be able to say that, really puts life and everything into perspective for you.”