Donovan Mitchell is endearing himself to the people of Salt Lake City and to fans of all persuasions in the NBA. He flashes his charming grin and welcomes strangers almost as if they were family. I think it’s the only time in the history of man many people want to have a Spida as a houseguest.
Mitchell won over UofL fans in his two years here by playing hard on the court and being a man of the people off of it. Whenever he wasn’t busy with classes and practice, you might see him at a UofL baseball game or football game; sometimes alone, sometimes with a teammate or mates. And when he was there, he did not try to hide away beneath a disguise consisting of a lowered ball cap and sun glasses. He was visible and he was welcoming to any fan, young or old, that wished to shake his hand or take a photo with him.
What is happening out in Utah is not some fake show attempting to win over a fan base. Donovan Mitchell is just being himself, a genuine man of the people. He enjoys making others feel special, making them smile, making their day. That’s what he did here in Louisville. In his two years here, he did so much good that we adopted him as a lifetime Louisvillian. When his playing days are done, we would welcome him back warmly as a son of the city.
So, when I see a story on twitter from SLC Dunk about Donovan asking around about 4th of July barbeques, getting an invite to a ton, and actually showing up to one, it does not shock me.
— SLC Dunk (@slcdunk) July 5, 2018
This is who Donovan Mitchell is. He is truly a man of the people. He derives joy from bringing others joy in whatever small way he can.
When asked about why he just randomly hit up Twitter for 4th of July parties and actually showed up to one, here is what Donovan had to say:
Donovan Mitchell shares the experience of casually crashing a fan’s house on the 4th of July, which was the 1-year anniversary of Gordon Hayward announcing his move from Utah to Boston. “I just thought of it when I woke up and fortunately I found a few spots,” Mitchell said. pic.twitter.com/soMOsoWV65
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) July 5, 2018
That’s right. He just woke up and decided to use Twitter to connect with fans and followers to find and visit, not just one, but several 4th of July parties held by them. He even took a couple teammates and his little sister along. In my belief, it wasn’t a PR stunt. Donovan just enjoys living and meeting new people. Basketball is an outlet to his true goal of enjoying humanity, life…and some good bbq.
To be honest, there really isn’t an NBA star like him out there. His gifts on the floor are unique, but his personality off it is even more so. Do you think many of his comrades in the NBA would show up to a basketball tournament in their NBA city after seeing it scrolling through Twitter?
Donovan Mitchell was just mobbed by a group of young fans at the Utah Jazz 3-on-3 Tournament before pulling off in his white Audi. “I just wanted to come by,” Mitchell said, smiling. “If I was a kid, I would die if my hero came to this.” pic.twitter.com/P4EUUvKxUO
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) July 2, 2018
Do you think they’d go to a fan’s 4th of July bbq? Do you think they’d procure two tickets after a fan on Twitter requested them so he could ask a girl in his chemistry class on a date? I’m pretty confident in saying there are very few who would do as Donovan has. It’s hard enough to get them to take a picture out in public let alone do what Donovan is doing.
In a time where more and more people retreat to the comfort of their own homes, live vicariously through social media, and more often than not stay to themselves, an NBA star is out in his community giving our most precious commodities of time and attention to both affluent and blue-collar fans. He makes everyone feel like they are a part of his group.
I don’t know about you all, but I am proud and happy Donovan Mitchell represented our university and our city. In my opinion, he is still doing so. Nationally UofL has had a lot of negative press, but the Spida is helping to show UofL is not what sports media touts it to be.
One day, when all the accolades have been given and the championships won, when all the records are broken and the wins collected, we will look back and smile at the fact that Donovan Mitchell was a Cardinal and a Louisvillian; even if only for a short time.