Donovan Mitchell opens up on night NBA shut down because of COVID-19: ‘We got drunk…I’m not going to lie to you’

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Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell gave some amazing insight into the night that the NBA shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league shut down on March 11, 2020 after then-Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. That led to the league taking a hiatus until it restarted in the Orlando, Fla. bubble later that year.

Mitchell, who was with the Jazz at the time, explained what happened inside the locker room.

“I wouldn’t say it was panic in the locker room,” Mitchell said. “It was just like, ‘What can we do?’ We’re just here.”

Mitchell revealed that Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul gave wine to Utah’s locker room following the outbreak, as the team knew there wasn’t going to be a game.

“Shoutout to C.P., gave us 15 bottles of wine that night. So we had food and wine. We got drunk,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to lie to you. We got drunk ’cause we’re just like, ‘Alright so there’s definitely no game.’ We’re not playing for a while. You’re in a moment where you can’t – everybody’s calling, everybody’s calling.”

Mitchell explained that the team was on Facetime with just about everybody imaginable because they didn’t know what was going to happen. The team eventually was escorted to a hotel where it was greeted by police.

Mitchell said there were 53 people in Utah’s travel party that all had potentially been exposed to COVID-19.

“We can’t get food,” Mitchell said. “We can’t do anything. We’re just sitting there, and we’re going to fly out the next morning. And I’m calling every friend I know that has a private plane like, ‘Look just get the players out. Can we get the players at home?’ And everybody’s like, ‘No, we’re not doing it.’

“None of us went to sleep. We’re just sitting there, on the curb.”

Mitchell said the players just ended up drinking Bud Lights and talking because of the crazy situation.

“Just sitting on the curb, drinking Bud Lights, just chatting. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced,” Mitchell said. “We were just like, ‘Alright, like what happens?’ We didn’t think that any of us might have had it at the time.”

Mitchell also revealed that he was angry at Gobert, something that led to many rumors about a fracture in their relationship over Mitchell’s final seasons with the Jazz.

“I was angry,” Mitchell said. “I’m not going to lie to you. I would say out of all the media reports that ever come out about me, Rudy and the team, that was probably the most accurate. I was mad.

“I thought at the time – I thought because we didn’t know – I thought because Rudy was around doing whatever that was the reason why I got it.”

Mitchell did acknowledge that he could have given it to Gobert or something else could have happened, but that at that time he was mad at his teammate.

The league shut down, and the 2019-20 season in general was a crazy one in the NBA. Now, Mitchell is with the Cavs and Gobert is with the Minnesota Timberwolves after both players were traded this offseason.

For fans, it’s really cool to hear Mitchell’s perspective on the events and how the players handled such a unique situation.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.