SALT LAKE CITY — On draft night, Donovan Mitchell received a call from one of the Utah Jazz’s greatest players of all-time.
He still remembers the conversation like yesterday.
“Stay patient. It’s not all going to be sunshine,” Darrell Griffith told Mitchell. “You’re going to have your pitfalls and I think that was the biggest thing I learned from him.”
Ironically, they both played at Louisville and now the Jazz organization.
Obviously, the 21-year-old Mitchell wasn’t even thought about when starred at Louisville from 1976-80 then was picked second overall by the Utah Jazz where he would earn Rookie of the Year, but he’s aware of his basketball impact.
Griffith led Louisville to its first-ever national title in 1980 then earned the nickname Dr. Dunkenstein throughout his 11-year professional career – all played in Utah.
His No. 35 hangs from the rafters at Vivint Arena next to all the past greats, such as John Stockton, Pete Maravich and Karl Malone.
During Tuesday’s win against Denver, Mitchell entered elite category yet again with Griffith as the second Jazz rookie to score 300 points through the first 21 games. Mitchell posted 16 points with six steals. He averages 14.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists as the Jazz improved to 10-11.
“I did not know that. That’s definitely pretty cool,” Mitchell said while learning the news. “I’ll definitely need to talk to him about that for sure.”
Mitchell said he hasn’t spoken to Griffith in a few weeks, but has spent time at his restaurant, Griff’s sports bar and restaurant, in the heart of the University of Louisville campus. He spent two seasons at Louisville earning ACC All-First Team honors as a sophomore.
“I knew about him,” Mitchell explained. “He went to Louisville so I used his restaurant all the time so it’s kind of cool how we got drafted to the same team. He called me on draft night so it’s pretty cool.”