The Utah Jazz lost, 131-123, in overtime to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in a game that was chippy and filled with controversy. But the controversy didn’t end with the final buzzer.
Donovan Mitchell, who was ejected from the game after being assessed two separate technical fouls in the overtime period, was the first to sound off in his postgame interview about what he feels is a disparity in the way the Jazz are officiated compared to other teams.
“It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete and to have a game like that taken from us,” Mitchell said. “I’m never, ever one to blame the refs, to blame officials. I could say that we could have done more, but this is getting out of hand…and 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 by this — like we won this game, in my personal opinion.”
Mitchell was followed by Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert, who all had something to say about the way that the Jazz are officiated.
The general sentiment from the Jazz is that there is a difference and that Wednesday was just a boiling point. Mitchell pointed to the fact that with the Jazz leading the league in the standings they are constantly being doubted and questioned and meanwhile don’t get the same calls that other top teams in the league get.
“This has been a consistent thing,” Mitchell said. “The question is can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real number one? Like, yeah the hell we are and it’s getting (expletive) ridiculous that this is what’s happened…I’m sick of it. To be honest, we all are. This is something that just, it pains me, it eats at me…and the league needs to do something about this.”
Snyder, who was in the room when Mitchell made his comments, did his best to be diplomatic and to explain what he thought Mitchell was trying to express.
“I heard Donovan’s comments, and obviously there’s a level of frustration that he has, that we have and that’s something that, presumably, you can’t control,” Snyder said, “I think Donovan felt that there were a number of situations when he was driving the ball, Mike was attacking — that’s what we’ve talked about trying to do, and to be able to play through contact — I think it gets to a point when you feel like what you’re doing defensively and what you’re doing offensively are being perceived two different ways.”
When it was time for Gobert to speak, he did so with the same passion as Mitchell.
“I feel like a lot of guys are able to do the things that we’re not able to do, and our guys are not able to get some calls that everybody else in the (expletive) league gets,” he said. “We know that we are the Utah Jazz and we know maybe some people don’t want to see us go as far as I believe that we can go, but it’s disappointing.”
A lot of the frustration from Gobert and Mitchell was about non-calls from the officials in Wednesday’s game and more specifically on non-calls after Jazz players drove through contact and didn’t get a whistle.
“When my guys are getting fouled three times in a row, Mike Conley is going to the rim, they’re grabbing him right in front of the officials and there is no call and on the other side there are calls that are invisible that are being made, I think it’s disrespectful, to be honest, to the game of basketball and to our team,” Gobert said. “Hopefully (the officials) are going to watch the game when they get home…hopefully they feel ashamed when they watch the game.”
Conley echoed the feeling that the Jazz are not given the same benefit as the other top-tier teams in the league and that it’s something he’s felt has haunted him throughout his NBA career.
“I’ve felt that way my whole career honestly,” Conley said. “Small market, we don’t have the big time names, the ones that are all over the TV and stuff like that so it can get a little wild for us. But we have stars, Don’s a star, Rudy, he’s a star, Bojan (Bogdanovic) and guys that that deserve to get those calls and it’s just not happening for us right now and it’s unfortunate.”
The lack of fouls called against players defending Conley was something that seemed to really hit a nerve with Gobert, who brought up the fact that Conley has never received a technical foul, that he’s not a player who complains to the officials, but he’s also seemingly not a player who has the respect of the referees.
“We’re nice guys,” Gobert said. “Mike Conley has never had technical in his life and they don’t (expletive) respect him. So, maybe he should get more technicals. I don’t know what he needs to do, Mike Conley, to get some respect.”