Despite loss, the Jazz win fans in Mexico

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SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell knows how to make an impression.

Jazz fans already knew that. There are plenty of reasons why Mitchell has become one of the most beloved Jazz players in recent memory — his on-court ability, his desire to be connected with the community, etc. But it all began when he was drafted: He was sincerely happy he had been traded to the Jazz. That type of thing goes a long way in Utah.

And one sartorial choice during his first trip to Mexico City should go a long way toward winning fans south of the border: Mitchell walked into Mexico City Arena before Utah's 96-89 loss to Orlando wearing a No. 45 Mexican National Team soccer jersey.

The jersey was given to him by Adidas during the World Cup run last summer. He thought it would be perfect to wear for his first trip to Mexico.

“As we were packing I was like, ‘Why not?’” Mitchell said. “It has my number on it.”

And the fans of Mexico enjoyed it: They stopped Mitchell to pose for pictures with him wearing the National Team jersey.

As for the actual meaning of it …

“I was the bad luck charm,” Mitchell said. “That’s what that means."

Mexico lost to Brazil in the Round of 16 in the World Cup.

But someone who was likely happy with the result of that match also played a key role in Utah winning over some fans.

Raul Neto took the microphone before Saturday’s game in Mexico City, and may have surprised some of the Mexican fans: The Brazilian point guard spoke to them in their native tongue.

That simple act — Orlando’s Isaiah Briscoe also spoke before the game, but in English — looked like it did some good for Utah. The Jazz were given some loud cheers throughout the game — which their play often didn’t warrant — and Utah coach Quin Snyder pointed towards Neto’s speech as the reason.

“It was nice to have that kind of support,” Snyder said. “It was probably because of Raul’s pregame address that was so good.”

The cheers actually began during the speech: Neto was interrupted halfway through his remarks by loud applause, and some fans even stood after he was finished.

It was the first trip to Mexico for many of the Jazz players. And although it was a short one — Utah flew in on Friday night and left after the game — it was still memorable, despite the loss.

The Jazz got luchador masks in the team colors — Jae Crowder wore his off the bus heading to the stadium. And Ricky Rubio held his media availability in his native tongue on Friday night.

“I think it was a wonderful experience,” Derrick Favors said. “It was a lot our first time here. The fans were amazing. The atmosphere was amazing. I think we all enjoyed it. I wish we could have got a win. But we definitely enjoyed it.”

“And the food,” Mitchell quickly added.

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