HOUSTON — On the eve of the Houston Rockets’ second regular-season contest against the Utah Jazz on Dec. 5, star guards James Harden and Donovan Mitchell met at a private home in Salt Lake City for a commercial shoot.
The TV spot from the BodyArmor campaign would be released during NCAA March Madness, but as fellow endorsers of the popular sports drink, it allowed Mitchell to learn how to conduct business off the court from the reigning MVP.
“One thing I’ve watched is the way he’s done the commercials and the deals and balanced it with his schedule as far as games go,” Mitchell said of Harden. “I think I’ve seen that both in season and out of season so that’s one thing I really took away is how to balance both.”
Even in the midst of a first-round playoff series, Mitchell continues to build his brand in the process.
During Sunday's Game 1 loss, Mitchell debuted his Adidas D.O.N. Issue #1 signature sneakers that are set for release on July 5, then greeted media ahead of Game 2 on Wednesday wearing a T-shirt featuring his personal self-owned “Spida” logo.
Despite being in only his second season, Mitchell shares several endorsements with Harden, including BodyArmor plus Adidas and Stance socks. Mitchell’s Creative Artists Agency (CAA) isn’t following Harden’s business model, but things have seemed to work out that way as brands continue to draw interest in Mitchell.
CAA also represents Rockets guard Chris Paul and Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George among others.
“I’m only in Year 2, so God willing there’s more to come to being able to figure out how guys balance it, when guys do it, how they figure it out with their schedules and some guys take control,” Mitchell said. “You’ve got to take control with your brand and your business and being able to see that side of it is pretty cool.”
During the winter commercial shoot, Harden was also able to get a feel for Mitchell’s personality, which he insists hasn’t benefited the Rockets on the court whatsoever.
“Nah, it doesn’t help at all,” Harden said, laughing ahead of Tuesday’s practice.
Harden and Mitchell were advocating for BodyArmor as the need for athletes to evolve all aspects of their game — including their choice of sports drink — with the “Thanks” campaign. It debuted during the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21 and ran through the national championship game.Comment on this story
That experience was one of many shared together in the past two seasons, but neither sees that moment as one to get the upper edge on the other, but more so of gaining respect.
“Just as much as I am, he’s a competitor,” Harden said of Mitchell. “He loves to go out there and hoop so that off the court stuff and all those good things off the court can’t help you on the court. He loves to go out there and hoop and he’s a beast. He was aggressive Game 1, but he’ll be twice as aggressive in Game 2.”