Video: Donovan Mitchell Speaks on NBA's Campus for Restart, Compares It to AAU

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2020

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) dribbles the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in New York, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)
Sarah Stier/Associated Press

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was one of the first sports stars diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 12. He has since recovered and is with his teammates at the NBA's campus ahead of the season's restart.

There has been a lot of curiosity about the campus, ranging from off-court activities, living space and the food. On Friday, Mitchell answered questions from reporters about the campus, his conditioning and more, comparing it to AAU:

Mitchell and teammate Rudy Gobert were the first two publicly known positive tests in the NBA. On March 11, the game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Gobert tested positive, and the season was eventually suspended.

The NBA's decision to suspend the season kickstarted a number of reactions to the pandemic around the sports world, including the NHL suspending its season and the NCAA canceling the men's and women's basketball tournaments.

Mitchell addressed his positive test on March 12 with a message on Instagram:

"Thanks to everyone who has been reaching out since hearing the news about my positive test. We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them. I appreciate the authorities in Oklahoma who were helpful with the testing process and everyone from the Utah Jazz who have been so supportive. I am going to keep following the advice of our medical staff and hope that we can all come together and be there for each other and our neighbors who need our help."

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He also said he was asymptomatic during an interview with ABC's Good Morning America (h/t, calling that "the scariest part about this virus. You may seem fine, be fine. And you never know who you may be talking to, who they're going home to."

In the days after his positive test, Mitchell was among the NBA players urging fans and others to take proper precautions and practice social distancing during the pandemic:

While Mitchell is now cleared, it is natural to wonder if there is any lingering tension within the Jazz locker room given reports following his positive test.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported on March 13 that Mitchell was "extremely frustrated" with Gobert's behavior that included "making light of the issue inside the locker room" before he knew he had the coronavirus.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on SportsCenter (h/t NBA Central) on March 12 and said: "The Jazz are fortunate that they don't have to get back together and start playing games again right now. There is a lot of work to do to repair relationships…there's a lot of frustration with Gobert."

Mitchell told reporters on July 2 that their relationship was "good." However, Gobert admitted to reporters on July 3 that his bond with Mitchell "isn't perfect...but as long as we respect one another, share the same goals and do what's best for the team, that's what matters."

On the court, Gobert is confident they can win together for the Jazz. ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported on July 7 that the French big man contacted Mitchell ahead of the restart:

"We told each other what we had to say to each other. We are both on the same page. We both want to win. We both think that we have a great opportunity, and we know that we need each other. We talked about a lot of things, but the main thing was that we are on the same page and the fact that our team needs us. We can win together. That's the most important thing."

Now that they've publicly discussed their relationship, attention will turn to whether the Jazz can capitalize on the high expectations that surrounded them entering the season when play resumes.

They are the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference at 41-23 and three games behind the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and 2.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks. A handful of games can make all the difference in the daunting conference, and Mitchell figures to remain the go-to option for the Jazz.

He is averaging 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game this season.