Details You Should Know About NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell

Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is gearing up for his second NBA All-Star Game appearance in 2021. As notes, he and center Rudy Gobert were also chosen as All-Stars in 2020, and it appears as though they're both focused on what it takes to find success both on their team and with the other Western Conference All-Stars for the Sunday, March 7, 2021, game.

"The biggest thing is it equates to our team's success," said Mitchell. "I don't think coming into the season we were looking at it. For us, we're going out there together and doing whatever it takes to win."

Drafted in 2017, Mitchell has truly had a phenomenal career filled with spectacular achievements, and he doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. After his first season, CBS Sports called Mitchell and the Utah Jazz "a perfect underdog identity," and the team has gone to the playoffs every year since. So it's no wonder people have their eyes on him and are wanting to know more. Here are a few details you should know about Donovan Mitchell.

Donovan Mitchell had one of the most spectacular rookie seasons in NBA history

As his official NBA bio states, Donovan Mitchell "took the NBA by storm during his rookie season." He had the highest points per game average among rookies that year with 20.5. He also earned the title of Western Conference Rookie of the Month every single month from December 2017 to April 2018. He had 27 games where he scored 25 points or more and pulled in a whopping 41 points against the New Orleans Pelicans in December.

But he didn't just shine in regular season play during his rookie year. He also won the 2018 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. One of his winning dunks featured him flying over a crouched Kevin Hart to slam the ball in the hoop, but as several YouTube commenters noted, the need to make Hart crouch was perplexing. Still, it did not diminish what turned out to be a spectacular NBA rookie season, and his back-to-back All-Star Game appearances only signal more promising years for Mitchell to come.

Donovan Mitchell's mother inspired him to finish his education

If you've ever seen him play, you well know that Donovan Mitchell is a force to be reckoned with on the court. With such skills, it's unsurprising that he actually skipped out on the last two years of his college education, leaving the University of Louisville after being drafted to the Denver Nuggets in 2017 (they immediately traded him to Utah). However, you might be surprised to know that he didn't stop being a student after achieving his dream.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in March 2018 that he had plans to finish his degree, despite being a rising pro basketball star. He took the advice of fellow All-Star Chris Paul, who told him to declare for the draft, but he also listened to his mother when she said he should finish his education. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, he signed up for online classes at his former university that summer in order to achieve that goal.

Mitchell's mother definitely instilled a love of education in her son. As he announced on Instagram in October 2020, that love led to the release of a signature Adidas shoe in collaboration with Crayola on World Teacher's Day. The collab also included gifts of t-shirts, shoes, and other gear to teachers to inspire them to continue their important work.

He wears the number 45 for a reason

Although he definitely excels on the court, basketball isn't the only sport Donovan Mitchell is good at. He also played baseball in high school, and his father works for the New York Mets as a director of player relations. So for his jersey number, Mitchell chose one that combines both of these passions, as well as pays homage to one of his idols. He wears the number 45 in honor of Michael Jordan.

But wait, you're probably asking, "Didn't Jordan wear number 23?" And you're right, he did. Until he changed sports and went to play professional baseball for a year, where he wore the number 45. He also sported 45 upon his return to the NBA. "Everybody wants to be 23, but everybody forgets about 45," said Mitchell, according to The Post Game. "That's been my life. No one really notices me, or everybody forgets about me. In rankings, whatever it may be in high school. So I've always felt that extra chip on my shoulder, and that's pretty much why I stick with 45." Well, that may have been the case before, but people are definitely starting to pay attention to Mitchell now.

Donovan Mitchell inspired an entry in the dictionary

Donovan Mitchell has one of the coolest nicknames in the NBA – "Spida." A pretty sweet sobriquet, but according to Sportscasting, the story behind it isn't too exciting. Mitchell says he got it from the father of a former teammate. "I had long arms and I was quick to getting a lot of steals," said Mitchell. "I didn't think it would correlate to where I am now. He never called me by my first name and to this day, he still doesn't. He'll text me, 'Spida, how ya doing?' Spiderman was one of my favorites growing up and it just stuck with me. That's where it all came from."

However, although the origin story of his nickname isn't as action-packed as his favorite comic book character, it did lead to something pretty awesome. Who else can say their nickname is cool enough to warrant an entry in "Nickname of Donovan Mitchell, record-breaking shooting guard for the Utah Jazz and contender for the NBA's 2018 Rookie of the Year," reads the entry.

He is outspoken about racial justice

In addition to using power and platform to advocate for teachers, Donovan Mitchell is also an outspoken voice on matters of racial justice. "I'm very open and I speak out on what I feel is right," he said in a video sponsored by Adidas that he posted to his Instagram account in August 2020. He said that he had experienced racism in the form of discrimination by police due to the color of his skin, and that he was using his platform to raise awareness of the issue and the need for change. "When I speak, I don't just speak for Donovan Mitchell, I speak for African Americans and minorities in general because I need to use my platform to address certain things that you know, kids may not have those same voices."

In September 2020, when a grand jury gave what amounted to a slap on the wrist to the Louisville police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home while she slept, Mitchell responded with a statement on his Instagram account. "As an African American I am hurting not just for Breonna Taylor but for every victim that has come about due to police brutality," he said. "We as a country need to do better."