Life might be different now if Donovan Mitchell only had listened to his mother.
From his years at Connecticut boarding schools to his tenure at Louisville, he heard a consistent refrain from Nicole Mitchell: Go get your driver’s license. At the time, he did not heed her words.
“I’m regretting it now,” he said last week. “My mom always told me to go get it, and I never really listened to her. My sister, too.”
So now the 21-year-old is the only member of the Utah Jazz who can’t drive himself to games. That may seem odd to Utahns, but for the New York-raised and Connecticut-educated Mitchell, it came down to convenience. He could get everywhere he needed to go without driving.
There wasn’t really anywhere to drive at boarding school. Everything he wanted was close by at Louisville.
Mitchell always assumed he would have time to get his license before he had to drive anywhere. But that time evaporated this past spring when he surprised himself by deciding to stay in the NBA Draft.
“Never needed it,” he said, laughing. “I never expected to be here so fast.”
So among learning plays, doing drills and conditioning and adapting to the habits of being a professional athlete, Mitchell is also in the process of re-applying for his learner’s permit that he had in Connecticut. But he never completed the requirements for his license. Once that happens, he has some hours and credits he can apply to getting his full license.
“Everything will fall right in line,” he said.
It’s not that Mitchell doesn’t know how to drive. He’s gone through familiar rituals of driving: His dad taking him for practice in the parking lot and those initial short voyages down the street to pick up something at the store. And being from New York, he’s experienced much more aggressive driving than Utah’s roads offer.
“It’s not so much intimidating,” he said. “New York you get the crazy driving. Out here, it’s really slow to me. Everyone is cautious and there’s really only two highways.”
The Jazz are more concerned with Mitchell’s progress on the court. He’s one of a few players who is expected to take some of the burden at point guard after Dante Exum’s injury, so he’s also learning how to shift Utah’s offense into high gear.
But the driving tales continue to trickle out. Mitchell revealed at media day last month that he was getting rides from fellow rookie Tony Bradley to practice. While the 6-foot-10 Bradley would drive to practice or to P.F. Chang’s, Mitchell would control the music.
These days, he has a driver who takes him around wherever he needs to go, so maybe he’s not in the biggest rush to get to the DMV
“I wanted to give [Bradley] a break for a bit,” he said. “It’s not actually as bad as it may sound not having a license.”