NBA players will quietly say they hear abusive, racist comments from fans — on and off the field — in just about any city, but there are a few places where it’s more common than others. Boston is one.
Utah is always at the top of that embarrassing list. Dwane Wade had issues there, Russell Westbrook had run-ins with fans there, and more recently Ja Morant’s family heard lewd and racist remarks from some fans there. It’s certainly not everyone, but players feel like those moments are more common in Utah.
Donovan Mitchell said the racial problems in Salt Lake City and the state are exhausting him. During an extensive interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape, Mitchell was honest about the situation, saying that repeated situations in Utah exhausted him.
It’s no secret that there are a lot of things I had to deal with while I was in Utah. If I’m being honest with you, I never really said this, but it was exhausting. It just drained my energy just because you can’t sit in your room and cheer for me and then do all these different things. I’m not saying every fan specifically, but I just feel like it was a lot of things. A [Utah] state senator [Stuart Adams] say I need to learn about my own black history. Seeing black kids being bullied because of their skin color. Seeing a little girl [Isabella Tichenor] hang herself for being bullied.
Man, it was just one thing after another. And I will say, it’s not the only place it happens. But for me, I will continue to be an advocate [racial equality] and to receive the amount of pushback I got over the years, it was a lot.
Mitchell added this story to emphasize his point.
But as far as Utah is concerned, it became a lot to deal with overnight. I was arrested once. I got an attitude from a cop until I gave him my ID. And that always made me wonder what happens to the young black kid in Utah who doesn’t have the strength to just say, “This is who I am.” And that was one of the things that I took to heart for me.
Mitchell spoke highly of individuals and experiences he had in Utah, but the feeling that many people didn’t understand what he was going through, that they didn’t relate (or didn’t want to) eventually became a problem. Mitchell said the experience in Cleveland — a much more racially diverse city — was different.
Mitchell is playing the best basketball of his career in Cleveland, including scoring 23 on Monday night to lead his current team to a comfortable victory over his old team, 120-99. This season, the Cavs have put Mitchell in a better position for him on the field, and his scoring and shot creation have led the Cavaliers to a 21-11 start to the season. The fact that he feels comfortable probably also has something to do with his level of play.
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Donovan Mitchell says ‘it was exhausting’ dealing with racial issues out of court in Utah, originally appeared on NBCSports.com