Donovan Mitchell knocked a cooler into a security guard.
This was an epic meltdown.
Sure, it had all the classics – technical fouls, an ejection, a postgame rant. But knocking a cooler into a security guard after getting ejected from the Jazz’s loss to the 76ers on Wednesday elevates Mitchell’s tirade to another level.
If Mitchell weren’t so well–liked, he’d be catching far more (deserved) heat for that. It was an embarrassment.
To his credit, Mitchell immediately checked on the security guard, who appeared unharmed.
But that didn’t jar Mitchell into settling down. He went off on the referees in his postgame press conference.
NBC Sports Philadelphia:
It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete and to have a game like that taken from us. I’m never, ever wanting to blame a ref, to blame an official. I could say we could have done more. But this is getting out of hand.
There have been games like this that we’ve won. There have been games like this that we’ve lost.
But this whole refereeing stuff and the way – We’re nice. We don’t complain. We don’t get frustrated. We fight through things. And the fact that we just continually get screwed in a way by this.
We won this game, in my personal opinion.
But, like I said, I’m going to give them credit. They won. Whatever. Cool.
But this has been a consistent thing.
And the question is: “Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real number one?” Yeah the hell we are, and it’s getting f***ing ridiculous … that this is what’s happening.
We have the whole second half of the season to go and get ready for, but I’m sick of it. To be honest, we all are. And I think this is something that just – it eats me. It eats at me, man. You all know what is. We all know what it is. But it’s really getting out of hand. It’s really, really, really getting out of hand. And the league needs to do something about this.
Because I want to see the Last Two Minute Report. I want to see it.
But it’s getting out of hand.
Nearly all teams believe they don’t get a fair shake from officials. Obviously, they can’t all be right.
I see no credible evidence officials are out to get the Jazz. Like all teams, Utah sometimes gets a favorable whistle and sometimes doesn’t.
The Jazz benefit from having a collection of players who – as Mitchell said – fight through unfavorable calls rather than whining. That’s one of the reasons they’re so good. It’s a winning mentality.
Tonight excepted, though.
Mitchell got two technical fouls in overtime while the game was still undecided. Though not as egregious as Draymond Green‘s technical fouls against the Hornets, Mitchell’s techs helped Philadelphia pull away. They also cost Utah its top scorer down the stretch.
For what it’s worth, Rudy Gobert appeared to deliver a lot of contact on the play that got Mitchell so heated – both to Ben Simmons on the first putback attempt (uncalled) then to Joel Embiid on the second putback attempt (called). As Mitchell said, the two-minute report will reveal more, both about that play and others.
Gobert also shredded the officials, accusing them of bias against small-market teams.
Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune:
Just tweeting a censored version of Gobert's statements tonight so I can embed them in the article and not get a fine from my boss pic.twitter.com/mqj0tbYZqL
— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) March 4, 2021
Expect Gobert and Mitchell both to get fined, Gobert more for a second offense.
But I don’t think this was just about officiating.
This part of Mitchell’s answer seemed out of place: “And the question is: ‘Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real number one?’ Yeah the hell we are, and it’s getting f***ing ridiculous … that this is what’s happening.”
The Jazz have been the NBA’s best team throughout the season. Yet, they’re frequently dismissed as championship contenders. The Lakers, Clippers, Nets and maybe Bucks and 76ers are all viewed as bigger title threats.
I can see how that’d frustrate Mitchell.
There’s nothing to do but prove it in the playoffs, though. The rest of the regular season is now about advancing toward the best seed possible and developing winning habits.
Utah accomplished neither yesterday.