One pair of size 19 shoes.
At time of publication, that’s all that’s left on Adidas’ website of Donovan Mitchell’s first signature shoe, the D.O.N. Issue #1. Every other size has been sold out for days, since Mitchell’s shoe first went up for sale a week ago. Adidas hasn’t released sales numbers, and more colors are coming later in the month, but it’s fair to say that demand has outweighed supply.
Come to think of it, that point might stand for Mitchell himself.
Since the Jazz exited the playoffs, Mitchell has spent most of his time in his home state of New York, working with NBA trainer Chris Brickley on his game. But over the last two weeks, Mitchell’s been on a more domestic tour, walking the world in his own size 17 shoe.
First, he went to Los Angeles, releasing a commercial for and attending the premiere of the new Spiderman movie his shoes are affiliated with. While there, he worked out multiple times with new teammate Mike Conley. Then, he headed to Salt Lake City, to watch teammates in the Salt Lake City Summer League and get some time in the Jazz’s Zions Bank Basketball Facility. From there, it was to Las Vegas, where Mitchell watched friends in NBA summer league action and even experienced an earthquake.
After his world travels of a year ago, when Mitchell went to Greece, Spain, the Philippines, and China, he’s slated this week to go to France, Germany, and Asia as part of a worldwide shoe tour.
There is an irony, though, that he’s slated to go on this international tour just as he’s made some of his most pointed comments about why he feels Utah is a good fit for his home. On this week’s LightHarted podcast — hosted by New Orleans Pelican Josh Hart — Mitchell spoke at length about why he wants to stay in Utah while other free agents chase bigger markets.
“Being in Utah, they allow me to be me. They allow me to be the kid that I am. Like, if I’m out to eat, you know, they’ll say ‘nice to meet you’ and leave you alone," Mitchell said. “It reminded me of Louisville. ... I love it. I love everything about being in Utah. I’ll never change it. I don’t need the big market to be happy.”
“I grew up around New York. I grew up around the big media. I grew up around all that stuff. And I don’t need that,” Mitchell said. “I need to focus on my game."
Mitchell also brought up the success of Damian Lillard — "Look at what he’s turned Portland into, and look at what he’s turned himself into. … He hasn’t stepped outside of that” — and John Stockton and Karl Malone — “You don’t need to leave to be something big” — while staying in the smaller communities they’ve played in.
Living in Utah, Mitchell says, doesn’t mean that someone can’t still have fun, that they can’t be part of the national conversation, that they can’t have massive commercial success, and he wants to prove that. That, too, goes hand in hand with success on the court: The better the player, the more successful his business will be.
“You can have a shoe, and be confident, content, and cool with that. Or you can have a shoe and … I think it’s only three guys who have 12 pairs of shoes, making retro. That’s the goal, to get to 12," Mitchell said. “So, now I’ve got to do it. I have a lot more work to do on the court.”
One stone on that path: an Olympic appearance for Team USA. Mitchell was named to the 20-man Team USA roster in June, and in August, he’ll return to Las Vegas to train with the team. If he’s selected among the 12 players to go to the FIBA World Cup in China this September, it would put him in pole position to return to the team next summer in Tokyo.
“The thing that we’re looking for is defense, and he has the ability to be a real factor,” Jerry Colangelo said then of Mitchell. "That could be the best way for him to make a roster spot, is to play incredible defense.”
Come October’s training camp, Mitchell will again be asked to reach new heights, this time for a team that seems to have real chances at surviving a very competitive Western Conference. And he’ll do so from his adopted home in Utah, overseeing a burgeoning business as a celebrity while still being able to find a sense of normalcy.
Near the end of the podcast, Mitchell tells Hart a story. "At the end of the day, we walk off the court and I can go sit on my own. I sat next to a family before we played OKC last year, it’s called Ensign Peak. I just sat up there on a mountaintop, sat next to a family, and was just talking to them. Nothing wild, nothing crazy. It was just cool to be able to be that normal.”
In Utah, even as everyone wants Mitchell’s shoes, he can walk a mile in somebody else’s.