It’s an awesome feeling just kind of waking up and realizing this is not just a dream. —Utah Jazz rookie guard Donovan Mitchell
LOS ANGELES — Just 16 hours had passed since Saturday night’s dunk contest in the Staples Center.
Newly crowned slam dunk champion Donovan Mitchell was right back on the grind, though.
He arrived at Fanzz Sports around 11 a.m. in the Westfield Culver City Mall Sunday, with the dunk contest trophy in hand, for an autograph session in collaboration with New Era.
Nearly 300 folks showed up to meet the Utah Jazz rookie.
“It’s an awesome feeling just kind of waking up and realizing this is not just a dream,” Mitchell said. “This is real life. I’m just happy it happened and I got to accomplish this goal.”https://twitter.com/E_Woodyard/status/965318015192465408
From there, Mitchell had a Global Media Exclusive interview at 1:15 p.m., a CAA Premium Experience meet and greet at 2:30 p.m., followed by a Verizon Activation appearance at 3:30 p.m. before he could finally enjoy the NBA All-Star Game with his mother, Nicole, at 5 p.m.
So much, so soon, but that’s the price of being one of the hottest young stars in the NBA at 21 years old.
“A whirlwind, honestly,” Mitchell said. “It's been a fun month.”
Things became so hectic, he shut down his phone just to soak in the moment, and even his mom is being bombarded with social media requests as everyone seems to want to be associated with the 13th overall pick.
“Don’t laugh at me, but I have a following on Facebook of maybe 120 people, but I also have like 300 Instagram requests within the last two days,” Nicole said, smiling. “So, I don’t even know how to accept that.”
Mitchell’s younger sister, Jordan, returned home Sunday for high school. She also entered the spotlight after being included in one of her brother’s dunks as part of his dunk contest routine along with comedian Kevin Hart and his son. Not only is Mitchell’s life changing, Nicole is also preparing to deal with the whirlwind of attention that is swarming the family, too. Hiring security may become an option.
“It’s definitely going to change. My thought process has changed overnight,” Nicole said. “I’ve been thinking more about my daughter with her face now being seen on national TV. I think Donovan can handle it well, but I’ve got to start thinking about things I’ve never thought about before for safety.”
Mitchell exclusively endorses Adidas, but is also garnering attention from other companies such as New Era and Stance Socks, but nothing is official. His agency, CAA Sports, is certainly equipped to handle the rush, as it also represents high-profile players such as Paul George, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
For now, companies aren’t worried about Mitchell being in the Utah market instead of one of the larger scenes such as Miami, Los Angeles or New York. He possesses the it-factor, and his showing at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles has only heightened his growing profile.
“It’s his time. What he did on Friday night, what he did on Saturday night is a once in a lifetime thing,” said John Connors, head of New Era Basketball. “He’s super impressive and he’s off to some big things. He has personality, style, and he’s just a superb athlete.”