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Jazz players describe fearing ‘this might be really the end’ with troubled flight

Utah Jazz Charter Plane

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 05: Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz arrives to the charter plane on the way to play the New Orleans Pelicans on March 05, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

It was serious. Very serious.

The Utah Jazz charter flight to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies had to turn around and return home after an engine hit a bird 5-10 minutes into the flight. NBA players are seasoned travelers and they were scared for their lives, several told the media after the team’s win Wednesday night. Quotes via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“For a good 10 or 15 minutes, I think all of us on that flight were questioning if we were going to be here today,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said... “That’s how serious it was for us. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that guys were trying to text family just in case, you know? It was that kind of situation.”

“It got to that point where we were all on the plane like, ‘This might be really the end,’” Jazz sixth man Jordan Clarkson said. “I mean, it was a crazy situation.”

How dangerous was it? Very. Players describe seeing the engine shake, and some players saw flames come out of the engine.

Fortunately, the pilots were able to assess the situation, turn the plane around, and land it safely back in Salt Lake City. The team took another flight to Memphis.

Donovan Mitchell — who has spoken in the past about his fear of flying — did not take the second flight or join the team in Memphis for the game Wednesday. He was listed as being out for “personal reasons.” An event like this impacts different people in different ways; we will see if there is any other fallout from the incident.