Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell on coronavirus: ‘The scariest part about this virus is that you may seem fine’

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) reacts during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in New York, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Sarah Stier)

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Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell made his first extended public comments Monday since his COVID-19 diagnosis, appearing in an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In it, the All-Star guard told Roberts that he’s feeling fine and is asymptomatic, indicated he is perhaps not yet fully ready to forgive teammate Rudy Gobert for his admittedly “careless” behavior, and announced a partnership in the works with Salt Lake City’s Granite School District to provide free meals to children.

Mitchell told Roberts that while he is quarantined, he remains symptom-free for the time being. He added, however, that is simultaneously the most worrisome aspect of his COVID-19 diagnosis, and the coronavirus pandemic in general.

“I can walk down the street; if it wasn’t public knowledge that I was sick, you wouldn’t know it,” he said. “That’s the scariest part about this virus, is that you may seem fine, be fine, and you may never know who you may be talking to, and who they’re going home to.”

Roberts brought up Mitchell’s Jazz teammate and fellow All-Star, Gobert, who has become an accidental poster child for COVID-19 in the United States, after admittedly not treating the coronavirus situation with sufficient seriousness, only to become the first athlete in a North America-based sports league to test positive.

Gobert famously touched a group of reporters’ microphones and digital recorders in a display of showing his apparent contempt for the physical separation imposed between him and the media as a virus precaution. He also, reportedly, was laissez faire about making physical contact with teammates and their possessions. Then, this past Wednesday, the Jazz’s game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City was postponed, and the entire NBA season put on hiatus when Gobert’s positive test was revealed.

When Roberts asked Mitchell if he’d had any contact with the Frenchman, the guard was measured in his response, which was as notable for what it did not say as for what it did.

The guard conceded there was anger, did not wind up directly answering Roberts’ question, and stopped well short of offering any kind of forgiveness, let alone saying he did not hold Gobert responsible.

“It took awhile for me to kind of cool off,” Mitchell said. “I read what he said and I heard what he said. I’m glad he’s doing OK, I’m glad I’m doing well. I’m just happy, to be honest — I hate to say that it’s two of us — but that it wasn’t the whole [Jazz traveling] party. At the end of the day, neither him nor I have children at home — I have some teammates that have children, some staff that have children at home. So I’m glad that we were able to contain it as much as possible.”

In the meantime, Mitchell said he’s been keeping himself busy by playing the NBA2K video game, watching movies, and going back and revisiting old highlights of himself from his days at Louisville and his first seasons with the Jazz.

It’s been fun, he said, to revisit those old times, but it’s been no substitute for actually playing basketball.

“It’s bringing back good memories, but you miss the game, you miss playing in front of the best fans in the world in the NBA,” Mitchell said.

He’s also got one project in the works, of far more significance than pulling up old YouTube clips.

Mitchell said he’s progressing toward a partnership with Granite School District to help provide meals for at-risk kids who may otherwise be going without them due to the state’s two-week “soft closure” of public schools.

“That particular school district in Salt Lake City is home to some of the most vulnerable children in Salt Lake. So I just wanna be able to give back,” Mitchell said. “Because time will tell — you really don’t know; doctors can’t pinpoint a date. So for parents who may not have the money, not being able to send their kids off to school to get food is a scary feeling for them, and I want to be able to make sure that they’re set, and they understand that guys like myself have their back.”

The Jazz announced some of the details in a statement Monday morning, writing: “Granite School District is transitioning its regular National School Lunch Program sites into what is known as the Seamless Summer Feeding Program during this period. Mitchell’s donation helps subsidize the program for food-insecure students, as many as 10,040 per day, during this non-summer school closure.”