Ever since yesterday, I've been kind of googling or Youtubing the old dunk contests to kind of figure out dunks that kind of got overlooked that are still pretty tough. —Donovan Mitchell
NEW ORLEANS — As the Utah Jazz wrapped up shootaround at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center on Monday morning, the news broke of Aaron Gordon withdrawing from the NBA Slam Dunk contest due to a strained left hip flexor.
All eyes then turned to Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. Would he be open to do it?
“Hopefully, I get invited,” Mitchell said smirking. “I’d be excited. Like I said before, I would love to do it.”
Then moments later, as he wrapped up his interview, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story of Mitchell being expected to replace Gordon.
Mitchell could only bust out laughing, as he could no longer fib, before confirming he was stepping in.
He actually found out Sunday night ahead of the Super Bowl.
“Oh, I knew,” Mitchell confirmed, with a huge smile on his face. “I knew yesterday. When I found out I was excited.”
On Saturday, Feb. 17 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, Mitchell will go up against Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Los Angeles’ Larry Nance Jr. and Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr. in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk contest.
He will no longer compete in the Skills Challenge, but will still participate in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 16.
Mitchell said he’s been working with dunk coach Chuck Millan to perfect his routine.
“I got a couple ideas,” Mitchell said. “Ever since yesterday, I’ve been kind of googling or YouTubing the old dunk contests to kind of figure out dunks that kind of got overlooked that are still pretty tough.”
Jeremy Evans was the only other Jazzman to win the NBA dunk contest in 2012. Other Jazz participants were DeShawn Stevenson, Jamie Watson, David Benoit, Blue Edwards and Mitchell’s mentor Darrell Griffith.