The team embarked on a second flight to Memphis hours later, but one player was notoriously missing. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell chose to stay in Utah and was out for the Jazz’s 111-107 win over the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, due to a pre-existing fear of flying that was compounded by the gruesome experience of the team.
“I was immediately scared as a – because I hate flying in general, and that doesn’t sound good,” Mitchell said Friday via The Salt Lake Tribune. “I was sitting across from Royce [O’Neale] and we just sat there praying, in a way, because we really didn’t know what was going on. … I texted my mom, dad, sister, just letting them know, “That could be it. It’s a scary thought. Just sort of like, “I love you guys. Write literally what could have been your last words. That was the scariest part for me. ”
Thereafter, Mitchell did not feel in the right mental or emotional space to take the second flight.
“I just needed that day, mentally. It was like I couldn’t make this trip, not for a game, ”Mitchell said. “Some things are just bigger than the game of basketball itself. And it was just for me. Everyone has their own things – mine is to fly, as you all know. I have never had a situation like this. This – I’ve had bad turbulent days, but I’ve never had a situation like this. And I just needed to take that time, because I didn’t feel or sit down just to go on a trip my teammates and coaches and everyone respected him. I appreciate the support. ”
Clearly, Mitchell has been able to overcome his fear of flying so far in his NBA career, but it’s understandable that a traumatic experience like Tuesday’s brings that anxiety to the surface. Mitchell added that he believes he will be ready to join the team on his next road trip, which begins with Monday’s game in Dallas.
“I understand that I have a job to do. I can’t pull a John Madden and drive everywhere – as much as I would like, I can’t. I understand that I have to do it. and I’ll be good – should be good, at least I think, for the rest of the season. “