He’ll be ready. I already have a couple things on this list that haven’t been done in an NBA dunk contest and they could surprise someone. —Chuck Millan, referring to Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell
NEW ORLEANS — He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice.
While Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell shines on the court, Chuck Millan is putting in work behind the scenes to make sure the rising star is ready for Saturday, Feb. 17.
Mitchell will replace Orlando’s Aaron Gordon in the 2018 Verizon Slam Dunk contest as Millan is preparing the top-secret dunk list.
“I know there are four dunks, but I like to pair him up with at least eight just in case somebody does his dunk or it goes to an extra dunk,” said Millan, founder of Team Flight Brothers.
Millan is well respected in the industry as an NBA dunk coach. His phone is constantly ringing for ideas as his company puts on halftime dunk shows around the world.
He has been in the business for 15 years and began working with NBA players five years ago. His clients include Terrence Ross, John Wall, Gordon and Zach LaVine and reigning dunk champion Glenn Robinson III.
Team Flight Brothers is based out of Naples, Florida, but he’s kept in touch with Mitchell via text messages to bounce off ideas since recently learning the news. His approach is simple.
“I always go with the Mike Tyson theory,” Millan said. “We don’t remember his 12-round fights, we remember the first round ones where you just knock them outright in the beginning of the contest.
“Trust me, I’m going to make sure he’s coming out swinging, first round.”
Millan is preparing to fly to Salt Lake City to personally meet with Mitchell as early as next week. They can officially go over the game plan then.
“What I do with him, like I did with Glenn Robinson III last year, is I’m not bringing stuff to the table that I’m like ‘Man you’ve never tried this before and you’re not used to doing this,’” Millan said. “So, the last thing I would do is bring him out there and set him up for failure so what I do is I kind of pair the length of jumps with dunks that I know that has been done or hasn’t been done that look crazy but with somebody that’s athletic as he is and the way he jumps off of two feet it’s a lot easier for him to do.”
Mitchell is excited to work with Millan and has known him since his teenage years when he was invited to participate in a high school dunk contest.
They’ve always kept in touch since then, even dissecting dunks together from time to time.
“My guy Chuck is real good with the dunks,” Mitchell said. “I worked with him in high school a little bit so I’ll be working out with him for a little bit and hopefully we can put together something special.”
Upon learning the dunk contest news, Mitchell will no longer compete in the 2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Sacramento’s Buddy Hield will replace him.
Gordon withdrew from the dunk contest because of a left hip flexor. Mitchell will go up against Los Angeles’ Larry Nance Jr., Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr. and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo at the Staples Center. He will also play for the U.S. Team in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 16.
According to Millan, there isn’t a question of whether he’ll be ready or not. Just stay tuned.
“I’m working with him. This is what I do,” Millan said, laughing. “He’ll be ready. I already have a couple things on this list that haven’t been done in an NBA dunk contest and they could surprise someone.”