When picking teams for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, team captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant drew some raised eyebrows when they left the two available Jazz players—Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert—as the last picks of the draft.
James rationalized his decision by saying, "You guys got to understand—just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah." That explanation drew the ire of Jazz fans, though Mitchell dismissed James's comments before All-Star festivities on Sunday.
“I don’t want to be rude but I really don’t care...," Mitchell said, per Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. "People have been talking s--t about me for a while...we’re not doing this to seek the approval of him.”
In the team's final game before the break, the Jazz lost an overtime thriller to the 76ers, during which Mitchell was ejected. After the game, Mitchell and Gobert were adamant in their criticism of the officiating, which ultimately led to each player getting fined by the league.
"It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete, and to have a game like that taken from us," Mitchell said in his post-game interview with the media. "And I’m never, ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official … But this is getting out of hand."
The Jazz currently sit atop the Western Conference standings, 3.5 games ahead of the Lakers, who occupy the No. 3 seed. The Suns are the No. 2 seed, and trail Utah by 2.5 games.