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  • Writer's pictureAustin Facer

Donovan Mitchell was great, but he was no Batman...responding to a Jazz fan's tribute to "Spida"

Maybe I’m a masochist. Perhaps it’s just something to do with getting older. Could be a side effect of some medication I'm taking. Whatever it may be, I’ve started arguing with people on social media a lot more than I used to. I know it’s bad for me, I know it’s easily the most unproductive act a human being can commit, but I can’t help it. I probably need to find some sort of medical remedy for this dangerous ailment.

But some things really piss me off.

I found some great stuff to get angry about on a Utah Jazz diehard fan group on Facebook. (Just a post-publication note, I was kicked from the group after I wrote this.) Of course, as we all know, the Jazz traded All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers this week. (By the way, if you say you saw that one coming, you’re an enormous liar). Naturally and somewhat understandably, the posts on this group’s page have been filled with all kinds of tender tributes to Donovan Mitchell.

To a degree, I think that’s perfectly OK. Donovan will always have an important role in Jazz history. He was the perfect bridge between the Gordon Hayward Era and now. He was tremendous in the community. He came up big for the Jazz on several occasions (and didn’t in other instances). I don’t think it would be too extreme to suggest his number will one day hang in the rafters at Vivint Arena – or whatever it’s called when that time comes, maybe the Crumbl Center, or the NuSkin Place.

But one of these Facebook posts got to me and severely grinded my gears.

“Donovan was the all star we needed but didn’t deserve,” the post read. “He loved the jazz, loved his teammates, loved Utah. He wasn’t perfect in his game, but was a dedicated and hard worker. He will be deeply missed.”

Every single sentence of this post is insanely ludicrous. The fact that many agreed with it is even more infuriating. I think it’s worth a closer look so let’s break it down:

Donovan was the all star we needed but didn’t deserve

Nice reference from the 2008 blockbuster, The Dark Knight. Do you remember that movie? Gary Oldman, playing Commissioner Gordon, says that after Batman escapes into the night, taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s death. It sounds pretty cool in the context of that movie, however, in no way does it apply to us as Jazz fans.

Why wouldn’t we deserve to deserve any kind of All-Star-caliber player in our midst? Yes, yes, I know we are one of the smallest markets of any NBA city. We all know the nightlife and culture of Salt Lake City doesn’t hold a candle to Los Angeles or Miami (Although I would disagree, have you seen that badass whale statue in the roundabout at 900 S and 1100E?) But there are absolutely zero reasons why would we should ever consider ourselves unworthy of a great ballplayer in our town.

Utah has consistently been home to many great players since the franchise moved here in 1979. I’ll name a few off the top of my head: Adrian Dantley, Rickey Green, Mark Eaton, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Blue Edwards, Jeff Hornacek, Memo Okur, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Rudy Gobert, Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Jordan Clarkson. Pistol Pete played here in the twilight of his career. All in all, Utah has had 32 All-Star selections, which is definitely in the lower quadrant of NBA franchises, but more than the Cavs, Mavs, Nuggets, Clippers, and Nets. In case you didn't know, all of those teams play in larger markets than Utah.

I guess I fail to understand why Jazz fans don’t deserve to have a player like Donovan. I was confused, so I commented on the post, asking the poster to explain why he feels that quote by Commission Gordon would apply here.

His response: “because of the way fans treat the ones we have here.”

Are you kidding me?

Have you not been paying attention to the Utah popular culture over the last five years? I reckon there ain’t many players in the entire sporting universe that have been as adored and idolized by their team’s market as Mitchell was by Utah. Take a look around, pal, there are little tributes to “Spida” all over town.

And I’ve made this joke with someone who has ties to the Jazz, who laughed and agreed with me: I bet Mitchell could have dropped his pants and taken a dump in the middle of State Street and no one would have said a word. Some might have happily cleaned it up and apologized for him. (Remember when Anderson Cooper said that about some guy who was making excuses for Donald Trump a few years ago?)

Utah fans don’t deserve All-Stars…one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever heard. Just because it sounds cool with Gary Oldman says it in one of the biggest movies of all time, doesn’t mean it makes any sense when referring to Utah’s split with Mitchell.

He loved the jazz…

Did he? Maybe, I guess. I mean I would love any workplace that had elevated me to the degree that Utah raised Mitchell, so sure, I’ll give you a pass there, Facebook Guy.

…loved his teammates…

This has to be a joke. I’m sure Rudy Gobert would laugh.

…loved Utah.

Uh-huh. Mitchell loved Utah so much that he didn’t spend a second of his last summer here.

He wasn’t perfect in his game

Now this, I can agree with. I think anyone who tuned into the hapless hero ball Mitchell played from time to time would agree too. Anyone who has watched him play defense over the last two or three seasons would agree as well.

…but was a dedicated and hard worker.

Mitchell is 25 years old and makes $30 million a year before endorsements. When he goes to work, he does so in front of 20,000 sets of eyeballs in the building and even more watching on television. I would hope he had some sense of hard work and dedication to his craft with compensation and pressure like that.

He will be deeply missed.

I half agree with this. Despite the above criticism I made, Mitchell was the catalyst to a really, really fun era of Jazz basketball, without question. Utah, as a franchise, will be much worse this coming season. But that’s been deliberately planned, probably for months now. As I wrote last week, before the trade actually happened, moving Mitchell is the most important piece to a complete Jazz rebuild that will eventually, hopefully, bring a title to Utah.

You know what I won’t deeply miss: the Jazz wilting in the postseason and losing games they shouldn’t. The loss in the Bubble after taking a 3-1 lead on Denver sucked. The meltdown against the Clippers the following season was somehow even more inexcusable. And I can’t say I was very surprised when Dallas bounced the Jazz this last season.

Yes, it’s somewhat justifiable to be a bit sad to see Mitchell, who has given the Jazz - and the entire state to some degree – an elevated sense of “cool.” But let’s be careful with how sad we choose to be. Let’s remember the good days and look to the future with hope. The Jazz have so many effing draft picks and young prospects now, I’m way more energized now than I would have be if Jazz brass had chosen to run it back once again.

And please, let’s not just use movie quotes that make no sense just because they sound smart.

If you don’t agree with me, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

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