Donovan Mitchell has been snubbed from the NBA Dunk Contest. Apparently being a never ending dunk highlight all season is not enough to earn a spot in the league’s biggest dog and pony show when you’re playing in one of the association’s smallest markets. The NBA has instead selected Dennis Smith Jr., Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Larry Nance Jr. according to Oliver Maroney and Shams Charania.
What makes this snub so odd is most of the national writers had been pining for Donovan Mitchell to be in the dunk contest. Especially as Donovan Mitchell has made the Rookie of the Year race a 1A and 1B matchup between Ben Simmons and himself, this seemed like the perfect chance for the league to showcase a rising star and the possible rookie of the year.
Allow me to take off my NBA writer cap and just be a Jazz fan for just a second here. It’s a bunch of bull****. No rookie in the past two months has been putting up numbers like Donovan Mitchell. Donovan has been Utah’s primary offensive weapon, teams know he’s going to try to dunk on them, AND HE STILL HAS. He’s put up highlights like these night in and night out.
I could go on for days with clips of Donovan Mitchell just yamming on people. Sure Dennis Smith Jr. has had a few dunk highlights, but Donovan Mitchell has them in spades. He has these highlights twice a night. It’s evergreen content. This is just ridiculous. I’m sure the NBA will put him in the garbage skills challenge as some sort of mea culpa, but who really gives a damn? No one has showed up to the NBA All-Star Showcase and been like, “Ya know what really gets me going? A dude dribbling through cones and passing it through a glorified car tire with a net on it. I LIVE FOR THAT.”
I’m not going to try to lie and say that the main reason I thought Donovan Mitchell should be in the dunk contest was that I felt it was best for the league to showcase him—EVEN THOUGH THAT IS COMPLETELY TRUE. No, one time this season, as a Jazz fan, I wanted to be thrown a bone. Excuse my french, but it’s been a shitty year for Utah Jazz fans. They have had to endure the face of the franchise bailing on them for his college coach. Before that they saw their point guard whom they traded a 1st round draft pick for turn down an extension. They saw their franchise trade away another 1st rounder to get Ricky Rubio who has been one of the worst starting point guards in the NBA. They have seen their other hope, Dante Exum, go down in the preseason because TJ Warren was just WAY TOO EXTRA in a preseason game. They have seen Rudy Gobert go down with an injury because Dion Waiters evidently thought bowling was a game designed with the express purpose of diving at people’s knees. We have seen Joe Johnson fall prey to Father Time. Rodney Hood has been up and down. Raul Neto has been in concussion protocol longer than the entire production of the movie “Concussion.” Thabo Sefolosha went down with a season ending injury. The literal only bright spot for Utah Jazz fans in a season filled with anger, spite, and depression has been Donovan Mitchell.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion that we would get to see our Spida-Man get showcased because he deserved it. He earned it. Most importantly, the Utah Jazz fans have earned it. They deserve it. They have earned it with all of the lumps they have taken from being on cloud nine after making the playoffs for the first time in years to this lottery turmoil caused by the rinse, wash, repeat cycle of a star leaving a small market for a large market.
The only silver lining in this is Donovan Mitchell is probably going to go on a revenge tour that has not been seen since Karl Malone got snubbed from the All-Star game in 1990. In the meantime, expect the state of Utah to shut out the All-Star Showcase festivities, not that the NBA will miss the ratings, we know, it’s small, but it’d be nice, just for once, that the NBA acted like it mattered.