‘You set a goal with yourself and don’t negotiate’: Donovan Mitchell still inspired by Kobe Bryant’s words

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell would love to become the face of the NBA one day, and he’s using the words of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant to stay on track mentally along the way.

“I can sit here and tell you that I want to be one of the faces of the NBA, if not the face, but I’ve got to go out there and do it. I don’t think of it as pressure,” he told Cleveland.com. “That’s the goal I set a long time ago.

“Kobe Bryant said something like, ‘You set a goal with yourself and don’t negotiate. If you’re going to be a man of your word, and that’s what you want out of your career, then that’s what you work for and that’s what you put in all that time to become.’ That’s my mindset.”

With players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry getting closer to the end of their NBA careers, there will likely be an opportunity for a new player to step up as the face of the league soon.

There is no shortage of superstars capable of rising to the occasion, but Mitchell can’t be overlooked.

The 27-year-old has played some of the best basketball of his NBA career since joining the Cavs. Moreover, including his time with the Utah Jazz, he has earned five All-Star selections and one All-NBA nod since coming into the league. Last season, he finished sixth in the MVP race.

One major item missing from Mitchell’s resume is postseason success. While he has shown flashes of brilliance in the playoffs at times — like when he averaged 36.3 points per contest across seven playoff games with the Jazz in 2020 — he has never gotten further than the second round of the postseason.

The Cavs will look to check that box in this year’s playoffs, but doing so won’t be an easy task. If the squad takes care of business in the first round against the Orlando Magic, the reward will likely be a daunting matchup against the Boston Celtics.

Still, Mitchell is still just 27 years old, and he certainly has plenty of good years left in the tank. The Cavs are hoping those years will be spent with them, as his future has been a murky topic for quite some time.

For now, Cleveland is focused on Orlando, with the first game of that series set to take place on Saturday. For the Cavs, a little bit of playoff success would be the best possible medicine in more ways than one.

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