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Donovan Mitchell talks about his bad eyesight, plus more from season opener

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives on Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) as the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder open the 2021-22 season at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) drives on Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) as the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder open the 2021-22 season at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY β€” Donovan Mitchell was the target of a playful jab as he walked into his postgame press conference Wednesday. That's what happens when you wear sunglasses inside.

OK, not full sunglasses, just regular ones that featured a tint, as he quickly pointed out.

But with the talk of vision, curiosity suddenly filled the room, and the question was posed: Do you wear contacts during the game?

Play has often been stopped as Rudy Gobert's fixed or replaced a contact, but Mitchell's never had that problem; and if he has it his way, he won't ever have to.

"No, I just slug it out," Mitchell replied as laughter filled the room.

So many laughs that he felt he had to add: "I'm actually being dead serious."

Mitchell said he tried wearing contacts in college at Louisville, but there was a bit of a problem: He couldn't stand touching his eye. Mitchell said it was a trying process and took him up to two and a half hours to get a single one in. After all that poking and prodding around, his eyes were irritated. So he ultimately decided it wasn't worth the effort.

But what about prescription goggles?

Mitchell said he's had those suggested to him before, but he isn't ready to take that plunge yet.

"For now, I'm just gonna keep guessing at which hoop I'm shooting at," Mitchell said.

For those worried, he did make it clear (even if his eye sight isn't) that his vision is good enough for it not to be a problem on the court. His career results speak for themselves β€” even if there may be some squinting here and there.

"Right now, it seems to be all right," he said.

Jared Butler may have been nervous after all

Jazz rookie guard Jared Butler was adamant he wouldn't feel any extra nerves during his first regular season game β€” he had already gone through those during the preseason. His regular season debut, he said, would simply be another game.

Or so he thought.

Butler checked in during the second quarter Wednesday, indicating that Quin Snyder is at least thinking of playing with an extended rotation.

His first pass? A poorly thrown ball that resulted in a turnover.

His first shot? A corner 3-pointer that came up quite a bit short.

So, yeah, there may have been some added nerves. But that was to be expected, even if he wanted to pretend the nerves wouldn't be there.

"First, we are really excited about Jared for a lot of reasons," Snyder said. "You guys have asked me more questions about Jared in the preseason than anybody combined. So for a 20-year-old kid to come out and be in a game, he's gonna make some mistakes, and there's going to be a learning curve, and he's going to make some really good plays and he's going to keep going."

Butler ended up playing 9 minutes in Utah's rout of the Thunder. He went 0 for 5 from the field, but Snyder is far from worried.

"There's no pressure on him to do anything other than play hard and get better and that's the only lens through which (are evaluating him)," Snyder said. "He's gonna watch tape tomorrow, he's gonna see things that he can do, keep doing them and keep improving. The best thing for Jared was to play his first NBA game."

New player walk art

It's common for the tunnels of Vivint Arena to get a makeover before each season. Players come and go, meaning artwork needs to be updated.

Even with that being the case, this year's version is unique.

The arena doesn't feature action shots of Mitchell dunking or Gobert swatting the ball away. Instead, the artwork looks like the Jazz players went back to high school for picture day. As the players make their way to the locker room, they are greeted with large canvas printed photos of each member of the team.

Gobert is in a sky blue vintage jacket; Mitchell, Royce O'Neale and Miye Oni are wearing some of their most stylish glasses frames; Jordan Clarkson's pose looks straight out of a fashion magazine.

"There's some guys that look good," Gobert said.

Is he one of those?

"Yeah, I like that photo."

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