CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Shortly after his NBA All-Rookie First Team season ended, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell took a summer business trip to Los Angeles to meet over dinner.
Surrounded by his mother, Nicole and sister, Jordan, plus his agents, the representatives from Adidas presented Mitchell with a cake reading: “D.O.N. ISSUE #1.”
Little did the former Louisville guard know at the time that it was ultimately a symbol for what was to come, with his first signature sneaker scheduled to hit stores on July 5 for $100.
“It was a pretty dope night,” Mitchell described.
Overwhelmed by the news, he couldn’t help but get emotional.
“He was excited,” Nicole added. “He was totally excited.”
After Mitchell wore Adidas Dame 4s for much of his rookie season, the Three Stripes company started to become extremely thorough in studies on his size-15 foot over the summer — noticing how he lands on the side of his foot — and allowed him to test his kicks as early as December before the official announcement.
While on a trip to Portland on Jan. 30, an Adidas representative examined how the Marvel-themed version performed during shootaround as Mitchell offered feedback. The plan is to start wearing them on-court during the postseason as the heel is being adjusted and a couple of other performance-based odds and ends.
His sneaker could get up to five colorways, with the red/blue version set to hit the market in conjunction with the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” movie.
“I’m not big on the design process as far as picking the sole, the back, the heel, but I like to see the shoe and be like, ‘All right, this is cool, this is hot,’ and that’s pretty much what my input was and that made it easy for them, and they were telling me that as I get older, that’s going to change for me,” Mitchell told the Deseret News. “I’m going to start wanting to get more into picking out my stuff. They said some guys sketch it out. So I’m not there yet but one day I will get there, but I just wanted to get the heel fixed and then go from there.”
Mitchell is just one of four Adidas basketball athletes with signature sneakers, joining Lillard, reigning MVP James Harden and Minnesota’s Derrick Rose.
D.O.N. Issue #1 stands for Determination Over Negativity — while pulling from classic comic books such as Spider-Man to play off his “Spida” nickname. His Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert has joked about the title of the sneaker, but trademarks and licensing from Marvel, plus the famous boxing promoter Don King, prevented them from picking other proposed titles, according to a Deseret News source.
“I’m just waiting for Donovan to release his shoes and get some Donovans,” said Jazz guard Ricky Rubio, who is also signed to Adidas.
Mitchell started filming his commercial for the sneakers on Thursday while in Charlotte for the 2019 All-Star Weekend. On Friday he had 20 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals to helpTeam USA beat Team World, 161-144, in the Rising Stars Challenge. Then Nicole and Jordan joined him at the Adidas hospitality suite on Saturday before he participated in the TNT broadcast for the dunk contest.
Nicole couldn’t help but soak in the moment.
“I feel like Adidas has been taking care of Donovan,” Nicole said. “A year and a half ago, I would’ve never thought, just unreal. I remember the first time we received all their gear after he signed with them after the draft.
“It was like Christmas with boxes of things and things for Jordan and myself,” she continued. “I remember sitting in the living room with everything just all over the floor, so to go from there to announcing that a shoe is coming out is huge.”
After All-Star break, Mitchell and the Jazz will return on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Feb. 22. The Jazz are coming off a loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, but Mitchell sees the team moving forward as they’ve also build an identity in Salt Lake City that is attracting national attention. He sees the signature shoe as just another example.1 comment on this story
“I think it started last year with Utah being put back on the map. Before I got to Utah, I didn’t really know much about Utah or the Jazz. All you know is Stockton and Malone, so I think with the team that we have now, with the guys we have now, with myself, with Rudy (Gobert), Ricky (Rubio), Joe (Ingles),” Mitchell said. “Joe’s getting this national attention about him being a trash talker and I think that’s what’s bringing the energy back, bringing the life back and it helps to have guys bringing it back and the shoe is definitely going to help.
“I think Utah deserves this, I think we all do, and I’m glad it’s happening because this is a great state with a great passionate fan base and I’m really excited that it happened here.”