NBA All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell signed a five-year max extension with the Jazz on Sunday worth up to $195 million. The 24-year-old was not a free agent but was eligible for his rookie-scale extension this offseason. What does one do to celebrate signing such a deal? Mitchell, who was spending time with his family in Miami, decided to take a celebratory jump in the pool, socks and all.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated host Kaitlin O’Toole, Mitchell shared what was going through his mind in that moment: “Honestly, too many things to even put into a sentence. I think for me just overall joy and excitement, years and years of hard work and dedication finally paying off. For that moment right there to be with my family was truly special, and the only thing I could really think of was to jump into the pool.”
Mitchell was one of three players in the 2017 draft class to sign max extensions over the weekend: The others were Jayson Tatum with the Celtics and De'Aaron Fox with the Kings. Some say there is a rivalry among them, but what does Mitchell have to say about that? “Not at all, we actually texted each other after we all got signed saying who’s going to pay for dinner. There’s always rivalry on the court, there's always war when we step between those lines but off the floor, those are my guys. I love to compete with them and those are two great dudes and I'm happy for them as well.”
The contract extension was happy news for Mitchell, who, like most of us in 2020, had his own set of challenges. The Jazz were the main focus in the NBA when the league shut down in March due to the coronavirus. He shared the roller coaster of emotions and many difficulties that the pandemic brought him and his family. "To go from we’re having a great year as a team, my first All-star appearance. You go from really one of the highest points, which I thought was one of the highest points of my life, and then you get to coronavirus, which I felt was one of the lowest points of mine. Then we get to the bubble. We lose in the playoffs to Denver. I had a pretty solid series but it ultimately ended in a loss. I get home and I’m about to celebrate my 24th birthday, and my grandmother passes away from a stroke. Then you get to here to signing this contract. It’s safe to say this year is full of ups and downs and it’s been the craziest year of my life.”
For so many of us, this year has presented ups and downs but having the right mindset can make all the difference. Mitchell shared about his DON mindset, Determination Over Negativity.
The point guard is launching an exclusive collaboration with BODYARMOR and Adidas, creating a limited-edition version of Donovan’s D.O.N. Issue #2 sneaker. “To be able to bring my partnership with the brands together with this shoe and doing it with a limited edition and giveaway I think is really really special. And to continue to push the DON mentality, Determination Over Negativity. I’m able to push myself and push us as a brand on both sides BODYARMOR and Adidas and continue to find ways to better ourselves.”
Mitchell is always looking for ways to better himself, and, even though he’s landed a contract extension, the work doesn't stop. “ I gotta continue to keep moving forward and keep working. The grind doesn't stop now that I’ve gotten this new deal. Nothing has changed. It's the same mindset. I haven’t done anything yet on the floor as far as winning a ring and that’s the ultimate goal.”
The NBA star has become increasingly better each season he’s played in the league. He has a career average of 22.7 points and 4.0 assists in the regular season, and his numbers are even better in the playoffs. This postseason, Mitchell averaged 27.3 points in 23 career playoff games, including 36.3 points in last season's seven-game loss to the Nuggets.
Mitchell also put up 29 points vs. LeBron James. In 2010, he traveled to watch LeBron make his decision to leave the Cavs and play for the Heat. Could 13-year-old Donovan ever have imagined that 10 years later he would be launching his second sneaker collection, signing a $195 million contract and playing in the NBA vs. LeBron?
“I was a baseball player at 13. I wasn’t even a basketball player. For me it’s crazy to kind of look back that 10 years ago I was at The Decision watching it all go down to now competing against him in the Western Conference. It’s one of those surreal moments when you look back at it, but now I’ve gotten to a point where it’s common. It’s going out there and playing against him and the rest of the guys in the league. They’re the defending champs right now, so we’re looking to dethrone them, that’s the end goal.”
It’s also the goal that Mitchell is working toward this upcoming season. Although he and other players in the league are faced with a quick turnaround time, this year has taught Mitchell to adjust to challenges and shown him that anything is possible. The Jazz will take the court on Dec. 22 for the start of the 2020–21 season.