Cavs’ Donovan Mitchell pinpoints moment that “changed my life” amid MVP admission

Matthew Legros
Donovan Mitchell on the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star Donovan Mitchell recently touted himself as one of the best players in the NBA and reflected on a special career moment that helped him reach such heights.

Mitchell recalled his 2018 Dunk Contest win as a pivotal achievement that put him on the map.

Before his wowing array of acrobatic and gravity-defying slams, Mitchell was in the midst of establishing himself as a winner early in his NBA career. The All-Star Weekend victory gave him box-office appeal and a household name along with it.

The New York native believes that the moment in time gave birth to his ever-so-popular ‘Spida’ nickname, a signet of a player’s cred as a certified hooper.

Donovan Mitchell’s claims dunk contest started his career’s Shaun Powell published a lengthy Q&A with the enigmatic star shooting guard earlier today. When he asked Mitchell about the impact the Dunk Contest as well as this year’s Starry 3-Point Contest has had on him, the 27 year old said:

“It changed my life. I don’t think people knew who ‘Spida’ really was until the dunk contest,” Mitchell revealed. “That changed things from a marketing standpoint, from a branding standpoint. Off the floor, my life changed. A blessing to have that.”

When Mitchell first entered the league, he had some buzz around his name. Though, other players taken ahead of the No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft garnered more attention and social media craze.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith ignited the Mitchell love train as he blasted the New York Knicks for not taking the Louisville product over Frank Ntilikina that year.

Mitchell’s play then did the talking. He averaged an impressive 20.5 points per game for the Utah Jazz as a rookie. By the time that year’s All-Star festivities rolled around, Mitchell was popular in the NBA community as a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Capturing the Dunk Contest crown unleashed Mitchell as a fan favorite. His windmill dunk with the usage of a second NBA hoop exemplified his creativity and flair, as Ballislife shared on X/Twitter:

After his meteoric rise, Mitchell achieved many milestones that furthered his stardom. He put up the third-highest playoff scoring performance in history in the 2020 Bubble (57 points), and a 71-point masterpiece against the Chicago Bulls on January 2, 2023.

All this has given Mitchell good reason to profess himself as one of the best players in the game right now. He did show humility when asked who this year’s MVP is.

Mitchell gave Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic his vote. He also lauded Philadelphia 76ers reigning league MVP Joel Embiid for his gaudy 35.3 points per game and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James for playing at a high level at 39 years old.

Cleveland’s franchise player currently has the 36-18 Cavs as No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Having won eight of their last 10 games, Mitchell’s winning pedigree is matching his popularity on and off the court.

About The Author

Matthew graduated from Brooklyn College in 2022 with a Bachelor's degree in Communications. In the past, he's written for Heavy Sports, Sports Illustrated, and SB Nation. On top of penning scripts for Empire Sports Media, Matthew covers the latest NBA, NFL and Boxing news for Dexerto. His expertise lies in basketball, with a personal passion for track-and-field. You can contact him at