NEW YORK CITY — Nestled within a sea of New York Knicks fans were some eye-popping salmon-pink and apple-green hoodies draped upon 20 African-American women in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Even with 200 or so people in attendance to witness Westchester County, New York, native Donovan Mitchell take on his hometown Knicks for the second time of his career, the Utah Jazz guard was most proud to have the support of those ladies scattered throughout Section 108.
The women were all members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omicron Upsilon Omega Sorority graduate chapter, along with his mother Nicole, who came to support him in the midst of Women’s History Month.
New York also acknowledged Women’s History Night in “The World’s Most Famous Arena” as Mitchell went off for a game-high 30 points, five assists and three rebounds in 29 minutes to lead the Jazz past the Knicks, 137-116.
Rudy Gobert also ended with 18 points, nine rebounds and two assists while Joe Ingles finished with 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds to help the Jazz win their fifth consecutive game after leading by as many as 37 points.
Those pink-and-green Spida-themed hoodies were provided by Adidas with Mitchell’s logo on the front, which also aligns with his recently launched Spidacares Foundation to help empower women from all walks of life in partnership with Doterra, a Utah-based essential oil company.
Mitchell’s foundation also has something special planned in Atlanta on Thursday as the Jazz are in town to face the Hawks on the second night of a back-to-back. Utah is now 2-0 in the midst of a four-game road trip.
“Those are my sorority sisters, so we support each other and that’s what the whole sorority thing is about, and they celebrate Donovan’s success with me,” Nicole said. “They follow him, they watch the games and he’s the hometown boy, so it all comes together, and they see what his foundation does as far as giving back and that’s the purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha.
“It’s service to all mankind and the fact that Donovan and his foundation is giving back to mothers, single mothers, and youth who may not have the same advantage as others, that’s our primary focus and organization aligns, as far as the values are concerned.”
Nicole is assisting him with the new foundation where they plan to positively impact communities by leveling the playing field in health, education and athletics for children and their families.
Plus, with the recent fan incident with Russell Westbrook in Utah, Mitchell has also pledged to use his platform to take a closer look at racial issues across the country — particularly in sports arenas.
“We’re moms, we’re teachers, we’re businesswomen, so we represent what that means for someone like Donovan to come out and we help produce that in terms of that success,” said Nicole’s AKA chapter president Lisa Bennett. “When people reach the pinnacle, reach the highest level, it’s still important for us as women, mothers and as leaders to support them and show them that they’re not alone and there’s a lot of pride that goes along, so it’s a critical piece of that.
“You don’t want that person to feel like that since they reached that pinnacle of success that they’re abandoned and they’re alone, their community still loves and supports them on different levels.”
Other than supporting the AKA women, Mitchell didn’t want to make it too much of a deal among his sponsors for his return trip to New York. He got off to a fast start with 12 points in the opening quarter — including a vicious one-handed, driving tomahawk jam over Emmanuel Mudiay at 4:29 — but seeing those strong black women in the stands is what meant the world to him on one of his favorite stops throughout the NBA season.
He also recently wore a pair of WNBA legend Candace Parker’s Captain Marvel-themed Adidas sneakers to celebrate her career accomplishments as a nod to his respect for women.6 comments on this story
“I’m just trying to find ways to show my appreciation, not just for my mother, but for women in general,” Mitchell told the Deseret News. “The AKA sorority is one that is very well-known, very well-respected and strong throughout the community.
“My mom has talked about being an AKA so this is something I’ve wanted to do with me being in the NBA and for her to accomplish one of her dreams, I think this is just another way for me to give her thanks for all that she’s done and showing support through all that she’s done for me.”