Wednesday night was dominated by the scene of Zion Williamson twisting his knee after his Nike shoe suffered a catastrophic structural failure. In all the commotion, the replays, pictures of the consensus No. 1 overall pick this upcoming draft holding his knee in pain with an exploded shoe on his foot, one voice made it into the conversation.
Across the country, in northern Utah, a 22-year old sent out one of tens of thousands of tweets that entered the ether regarding Williamson, what his next move should be and the risk he might take if he continued playing effectively for free while generating millions of dollars for Duke and the NCAA. But his voice was one that was heard and not only that, it was acknowledged.
Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game.... and these players get none of it.... and now Zion gets hurt... something has to change @NCAA— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) February 21, 2019
This tweet went viral, even by Mitchell’s standards with his 417,000 followers. It got twice as many retweets and 10,000 more likes than his teasing tweet about him participating in the dunk contest with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Whatever you think about the issue Mitchell’s comments are about, it’s worth noting that Mitchell, who has yet to complete two seasons of NBA basketball, is not backing down from the public sphere. He even did his part in trying to find a man who police were looking for because of an assault which appeared to be driven by homophobia.
Do you remember that time Gordon Hayward spoke out on the current issues? Spoke his mind and shared his opinions on things in and outside of basketball? No, you don’t. And this isn’t to just bash on Hayward either. Most of Utah’s best players in recent years haven’t raised their voices the way Mitchell has. Those who may have, were rarely heard.
Jazz nation has spent well over a year learning and talking about just how different Donovan is compared to Jazzmen of recent years, but we’ve also seen just how similar he is to his league contemporaries. Stars these days aren’t quiet. They speak out on things other than basketball or, as in this case, things basketball related but outside the NBA. They don’t (always) go through the media to speak their minds either, they go straight to the public either by Twitter, Instagram or whatever the latest social media site is.
It’s been said by many before now (including by me and probably in multiple downbeats), but Donovan Mitchell is a special player. Not only for his on-court accomplishments, but also his growing influence in the basketball world and community.