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Donovan Mitchell was once on the outside looking in while LeBron James shocked the basketball world.
Now, the dynamic rookie guard of the Utah Jazz is attempting to carve his own niche, playing in the same league with James and the other superstars of the NBA. And he’s off to a grand start, being named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January for the second consecutive month.
Mitchell was there — as a 13-year-old youngster — in 2010 when James staged his infamous “The Decision” show on ESPN.
When James announced he was leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to take his “talents to South Beach,” Mitchell was standing outside of the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club watching his favorite player tell the world where he would hang his hat next.
Reaction was immediate across the NBA landscape, including at ground zero.
An angry New York Knicks fans hurled a Snapple bottle, almost hitting Mitchell in the head.
“It was cool,” Mitchell told The Salt Lake Tribune. “I was outside, so it was cool being there. I wanted him to go to Miami at that point, I wanted him to get a ring.
“I remember there were a lot of upset people there. There were a lot of Knicks fans, Greenwich being so close to New York and all. But it was definitely cool.”
Mitchell, a University of Louisville product, is said by most observers to be in a two-way battle with Ben Simmons of Philadelphia for NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
He led all first-year players in January, averting 22.3 points a game, while also putting up 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the month. Mitchell scored 34 points twice in the month, putting up 20 or more points in eight of Utah’s 13 games.