Donovan Mitchell can’t help but credit LeBron James for turning him into Cavs fan

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Donovan Mitchell took part in his first official press conference as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednseday, and the team’s new star guard spent a lot of time talking about why he’s excited to be a member of the franchise.

Unsurprisingly, Mitchell spent some time talking about former Cavs superstar LeBron James. During his presser, he revealed that he grew up a fan of the Cavs thanks to James and his time with the team.

It wasn’t the first time Mitchell touched on his adoration of James. Shortly after the trade was announced earlier this offseason, Mitchell took to social media to post a photograph of himself as a young boy wearing an old school Cavs uniform. Though it can’t be made out in the picture, it’s a virtual certainty that the uniform was a No. 23 James jersey.

Mitchell went into more depth of his history as a James fan on Wednesday.

As the sentiment in the tweet, there is a certain amount of poetic symmetry that now exists within the Cavs post-James rebuild. As Cavs fans remember well, James decided to leave the organization in 2018 to join the Los Angeles Lakers, where he still plays.

James’ decision to leave and Kyrie Irving’s honored trade request the year before left the Cavs in a place that they had not been for quite some time: in the middle of a complete rebuild.

Though it was daunting, James’ departure also offered an opportunity for general manager Koby Altman and the rest of the team’s front office to create something new and exciting. Year after year, the team seemed to make wise acquisitions via trade and free agency as well as strategic draft selections in pursuit of that goal.

Of course, the fact that the Cavs were one of the worst teams in the NBA in the league from the 2018-19 season to the 2020-21 season, as well as some NBA Lottery luck, helped the Cavs land young studs like Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Collin Sexton.

Those wise moves in the previous seasons are where the poetry came into play for the Cavs. The acquisition of Mitchell would not have been possible without many of those previous decisions.

The Cavs’ decision to draft Sexton in 2018 played a huge role in their ability to complete the Mitchell trade. So too did their decision to trade for Lauri Markkanen in 2021. Both players helped get the deal done with the Utah Jazz.

Perhaps what is most poetic is that while James’ departure started the team’s rebuild, Mitchell joining the team has essentially ended it. The Cavs will no longer be happy with incremental progression made by their young core. Now, the team will be looking to win in bunches and eventually earn a playoff berth.

In time, Mitchell may help harbor in another championship-or-bust mentality. Such a mentality has not been seen in Cleveland since James led to the team to four straight Finals appearances during his second tenure with the franchise.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Cavaliers Nation.