Donovan Mitchell thought it was just crazy.
How could Spike Lee, a notorious Knicks superfan whom Mitchell grew up admiring from afar as a Knicks fan, be given a hard time upon entering at Madison Square Garden? So when footage surfaced of an aggravated Lee arguing with an MSG security guard over whether he was using the proper entrance, the star Jazz guard could only describe it as “crazy.”
Growing up in Westchester County, Mitchell considered the big-name director to be synonymous with the Knicks. And it was apparent how baffled Mitchell was when Gategate garnered even more attention after the Knicks released a statement Tuesday calling Lee’s accusations “laughable.”
“I don’t know exactly what happened, but I just reacted to what I saw,” Mitchell said after putting up 23 points in Utah’s 112-104 win over the Knicks on Wednesday. “From what I saw, that’s why I reacted the way that I did.”
When the 23-year-old heard Lee’s side of the story in a clip posted to ESPN’s Twitter account Tuesday, Mitchell let his thoughts become public, replying, “That’s crazy yo.” He maintained his stance of disbelief when asked about the incident Wednesday, but made a point to credit Knicks players for managing to block out all the noise they’ve had to deal with this season.
“Obviously it’s no secret that things that have been happening around [the Knicks],” said Mitchell, who also added eight assists and two steals in the victory. “As a team full of guys like that, younger guys, I think sometimes it can be a distraction. That’s the big media, that’s just what it is. I think the guys on the team do a good job of putting it to bed and going out there and competing.
“They competed tonight. They got a big win against Houston and we won by what, eight, tonight? So I think they’re doing a good job of that to find ways to continue to playing.”
However, Mitchell believes that newly appointed Knicks president Leon Rose can be New York’s saving grace. Having known Rose as part of Creative Artists Agency, the former first-round pick out of Louisville said he believes Rose has all the tools to turn the Knicks around.
“For me, understanding that you have to think with Leon coming in, who I know personally, I think things are going to trend upward,” he said. “I love Leon to death, he’s a great dude, great person, and a really good business man. So for him, I think things are going to start going in the right direction when he gets in there.”