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Donovan Mitchell: “Whether I got picked last or first, I’m here”

Vincent Goodwill discusses Michael Jordan's praise for LaMelo Ball, reveals his MVP front-runner, explains the importance of this year's All-Star break, and shares why James Harden is at his best as the No. 2 option.

Utah Jazz fans were mad. Charles Barkley half-jokingly called it “slander.” Jazz All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were the last two players on the board when LeBron James and Kevin Durant were picking the All-Star teams — the two players from the team with the best record in the NBA were being overlooked.

“There’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” LeBron said, but then he rubbed salt in the wound. “You’ve got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. As great as Karl Malone and John Stockton was, we would never pick those guys in video games.”

Donovan Mitchell is not going to let that ruin his All-Star experience.

“I don’t wanna be rude, but I don’t care...” Mitchell said in a Zoom call with the media Sunday. “At the end of the day, I made it, Rudy made it, Mike [Conley] made it, coach [Quin Snyder] made it.

“Whether I got picked last or first, I’m here.”

The Jazz players and coaching staff echoed that sentiment on Sunday and added they were particularly happy to see Mike Conley make the cut. After being widely considered the best active player in the league not to make the game, Conley was selected as an All-Star replacement for the injured Devin Booker.

“It’s obviously an honor there are so many players who deserve to be an All-Star every season...” Conley said Sunday, emphasizing he was just happy to be there. “There’s been years scored a lot of points and the team was middle of the pack and not so good, and I couldn’t make it. I’ve been on good teams where I had a different role, that’s what I have here in Utah.”

“So happy, so excited for him,” Gobert said of Conley. “It was frustrating he wasn’t selected at first. We really thought he deserved it, and he deserved it for many years.”

“He’s a guy that doesn’t really show emotion, he’s just smooth sailing… when we got the call and found out, you could see it. We’re happy and excited for him to make it,” Mitchell said of Conley.

“Thrilled for Mike,” Jazz and All-Star Team LeBron coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s got so much respect. You hate to see a player have to step out for that to happen, but I think that’s inconsequential. He’s so deserving.”

All three were happy to see the Jazz — the team with the best record in the NBA through the first half of the season — get some recognition with three players and a coach at the All-Star Game.

“It’s awesome to share these All-Star moments with my teammates, the coaches,” Conley said, adding he gets to play against coach Snyder. “It’s one of the highlights of my career.”

He added it was not Utah’s goal to have All-Stars or the best record in the west.

“We want to win a title,” Conley said.

But first, he and the Jazz get to bask in a little All-Star recognition.