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February 15, 2019

Donovan Mitchell

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. Let's go straight to the point. How does it feel actually to be an All Star?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: I'm not an All Star.

Q. No, to be a part of All-Star.
DONOVAN MITCHELL: Oh, to be in the All-Star. It's a blessing. It's always a blessing to be able to come down here. You know, as a kid, you love being a part of this weekend any way possible. I think this year, I think a lot of us who are in the game came back ready to play for tonight, especially after last year losing the way we did. But it's a blessing and an honor.

Q. Is there any trash talk in the locker room?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: Oh, yeah, for sure. There's definitely some trash talk going around, especially between the Kings' teammates because they've got [three players in the game]. I'm ready. I think we're all ready. It will be a lot of fun tonight.

Q. Is there anything that we've got to look for that you're going to bring tonight?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: Just trying to dunk the ball a few times. That's for sure.

Q. Do you remember the first time in your life you dunked a basketball?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: Yeah. I was in Harlem, outside. I think it was by the FDR [Drive], right off the FDR [Drive] on a nice little court. I got a dunk, and it was in warm-ups for an AAU game, and I just went crazy. I didn't care about the game or any game for that week. I just went and told everybody that I dunked the ball. So that was pretty fun.

Q. Who was there?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: My teammates. One of my teammates, my best friend, Eric Paschall, he plays for Villanova, he was there. It was his first dunk that day, too. So we shared a special moment. It was pretty cool.

Q. What sticks out playing against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: He's tough. I shouldn't say that because he went to UK [Kentucky]. He's tough. He's a good player. His court vision, his poise. His teammates respect him. At a young age, that's something that's really impressive that that teammates respect him and his work ethic and the way he plays.

He's fine-tuning his game in many different ways. He's able to get to his spots. Never seems too out of control. That's one thing. And he can only get better. He's tall, too. As a point guard, that definitely helps.

Q. It's All-Star in Charlotte and it's also Michael Jordan's birthday this weekend.
DONOVAN MITCHELL: It's his birthday this weekend? I didn't know that.

Q. How special is that?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: It all comes full circle being around Michael. Obviously, I wear 45 because of my basketball and baseball with Michael. It's a great honor the NBA is paying him. He's the greatest basketball player of all time. He always will be. That's one thing you've got to give him. Like he said the other day, six championships, that's all I'm saying.

For me to be here, it means a lot. It's a blessing, and everything is kind of coming around full circle.

Q. Donovan, have you ever met him?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: No, actually, I've never met Michael before. I'm hoping this weekend I will.

Q. Your NBA experience, what you didn't know before being in it?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: One thing I didn't know about the NBA? The game is a lot faster, quicker pace, up and down. You're allowed to grab in certain situations, certain tricks you've got to learn. There are a lot of little things that I've learned, but those are a few.

Q. In season 1 and 2, the difference?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: It's different when people don't expect you to do much than when people do expect you to do something. It's a little different. I learned that for about two or three months, and I'm starting to figure it out.

Q. Talk about your experience with Dwyane Wade. This is his last All-Star Game.
DONOVAN MITCHELL: With Dwyane, man, I went to the "One Last Dance" dinner last night. It was just sad for me. Growing up, you watch him. They showed a video, and I didn't realize how many moments, how many plays we kind of -- like, man, I kind of do that. I never realized how close we were, or how similar we are as players. Like I said, I've always gone to him for advice, for whatever it is. Just asking him about life in this league.

You know, he won a championship in his third season. That's extremely impressive, and that's one thing I've really always wanted to ask him about. As a young player in this league, he got the respect from guys like Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal], Tim Hardaway, Caron Butler. That's impressive. That's hard to do as a young guy.

So for me, just trying to find ways to better myself. This being his last All-Star Game, it's sad to see him go, but I think he'll go out with a bang this year.

Q. On NBA player movement:
DONOVAN MITCHELL: As far as what is my opinion on it? I feel like the players should be able to choose where they want to go. People are going to have their disagreements, but at the end of the day, if you want to go to a different job, it's your choice, right? Just because we play in front of millions of people, I feel like it's judged differently, but at the end of the day, I don't think that's going to stop, especially like A.D. [Anthony Davis], it's not going to stop him from doing what he wants. I think we all owe him that respect. It's his life, his choice. Whether he did it at the time that everybody wanted him to or the time -- it doesn't really matter, in my opinion.

Q. On improving as a player:
DONOVAN MITCHELL: To improve my game, just try to continue working, not really overthinking things, just going out there and playing my game. The biggest thing for me is not listening to you guys, like respectfully, like no offense, because there's times where you're up, there's times where you're down. Last year you kind of listened to it. This year, if it's a bad game, you hear about it, if it's a good game, you hear about it. So it's like not really listening to that much, and just go out there and focus on the team.

In Utah, we have a great chemistry as far as being able to lift each other up. The one game in Philly, I had like zero assists, and I remember getting hit over the head every time, like no assists. And that whole night, I had Joe Ingles tell me, "You'd better shoot the ball 35 more times." The next night, and then I went out and had 28 in Boston. When you have teammates like that, it makes my life 10 times easier.

Q. Is it hard to filter out all the noise you hear on the outside?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: As far as social media?

Q. Yeah.
DONOVAN MITCHELL: I would say I'm pretty active on social media, but I would say knowing what not to look at. Last year it was cool to see my man Eric and those guys posting, and I'm like, wow, I got an article about me. So now it's like, all right, I don't want to listen to it because, even if it's good or if it's bad, you want to keep the same level playing field, and that's one thing I get from listening to guys like Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kobe [Bryant], like keeping that same -- whether you have a great January like I did or you have the November that I had, you've got to keep the same level, the same mindset because it can be gone like that, it can be here in the matter of a blink of an eye.

Q. Who's your favorite account to follow on social media?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: I would say highlights, my guy Omar. I like Omar. I should follow the Jazz account. It's pretty funny. We've got some funny, funny people on the Jazz account, man. I don't know who -- is it you that have it? Is it strictly solely you? You guys are doing your job, doing your job. I like it.

Q. On not defending his Slam Dunk title this year:
DONOVAN MITCHELL: Why not? That was a tough decision for me, very tough one, but I just know with the way that I felt last year, we came back, and we played Portland, and I was dead tired after an All-Star, quote, unquote, break, and I don't think that's how it's supposed to be. As much fun as it was, I think mentally I need to be ready for the second half of the year. I think we all do as a team, and I think that's really where my focus is at. I may do it in the future, but this year I just felt like I needed to just...

Q. On John Collins being in the Dunk Contest:
DONOVAN MITCHELL: He's going to surprise a lot of people. John's got some bounce. I trained with him the whole summer before we got drafted. He's going to surprise a lot of people. I kind of know what he has in his bag a little bit. He's got some tricks for you all. It will be dope.

Q. How fun was the sneaker shoot yesterday?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: The sneaker shoot, that was dope. Just the fact that I have my own shoe, I think, is pretty wild to me. But it was dope, you know. I kind of just got to be myself, and I got to control everything, what I was doing. They asked me what I liked about this, what I liked about that, which isn't always the case. I think Adidas gives me a great platform to be like, I like this, I want to do this, or I don't want to do that. It was a lot of fun.

Q. Talk about Dwyane Wade, and what did you take from the speeches?
DONOVAN MITCHELL: I would say forget the speeches, did you see how many people were in the room? That's one thing that got me. You had Magic [Johnson]. You had Pat Riley. You had Isiah Thomas. You had Carmelo [Anthony]. You had Chris Paul, Steve Smith, Grant Hill, Caron Butler -- like you have those guys coming to see him and he idolized most of those guys, like that says a lot in itself. The fact that they were willing to come on Thursday night. You know, no one comes on Thursday night to All Star. They come on Thursday night to celebrate him. You know, I think that shows everything in itself.

The fact that the agency put on such a big show for him, that shows the willingness for people who are in his everyday life, the willingness to celebrate him. That just shows the type of person and the type of impact he's had on people in this game, and that's kind of where I want to do the same.

It's not just what he does on the basketball floor, it's what he does as a person. For me, it's giving shoes away to kids before the game. For him, it may be visiting someone's mother or help building houses, whatever it may be, like he left such an impact on the game on and off the floor that I'm trying to replicate because it's very -- it's just great to see something like that from a guy of his stature.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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