The Utah Jazz are counting their blessings after Tuesday’s frightening incident in the sky that led to the team’s charter plane to make an emergency landing.
After striking a flock of birds shortly after taking off for Memphis ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies, flames reportedly poured out of the engine and the aircraft was palpably shaking as it returned to Salt Lake City International Airport.
No one was injured, but players understandably were shaken up by the incident the following day.
“It got to that point where we were all on the plane like, ‘This might be really the end,'” Jordan Clarkson told reporters Wednesday night, via ESPN. “… “A lot of us really came to a point … at least 30 seconds in that flight, everybody came to the point where it was like, ‘Man, it might be over for us.’ It’s sad to say that. I don’t play with death or anything like that.”
Point guard Mike Conley offered a similar account.
“For a good 10 or 15 minutes, I think all of us on that flight were questioning if we were going to be here today,” he said. “That’s how serious it was for us. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know that guys were trying to text family just in case, you know? It was that kind of situation.”
No one knew exactly what was going on when things first went wrong on the flight, Conley said. The plane was quiet as the team waited for updates from the crew.
“It took the pilots probably five to 10 minutes, probably about 10 minutes, to go through everything, go through their checks and get back to us and let us know what was going on, Conley said, via ESPN, “because it was obvious that something was really wrong with the plane.
“It felt like the plane was breaking apart in midair. For five or 10 minutes, it felt like complete helplessness. We’re thankful it wasn’t as serious as it could have been, but it was scary.”
The Jazz still managed to win Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies, 111-107. But clearly, there was much more on the team’s collective mind than a simple victory.