CLEVELAND, OH — It was Monday night, more than 30 minutes after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ double-digit victory over the Atlanta Hawks — perhaps their biggest victory and a bit of revenge for the team that ended Cleveland’s dream season six months earlier. .
There were smiles and jokes. A lot of laughter. And an apology.
That expression of regret came from superstar Donovan Mitchell, a preseason MVP candidate who rarely has reason to apologize. Mitchell had just scored a game-high 29 points and had nine assists while shooting at least 50% from the field for the 11th time. With him on the floor, the Cavs outscored the Hawks by 14 points, combining with Darius Garland to get the best from the star-studded Eastern Conference backcourt – Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.
But Mitchell couldn’t shake his blunder at the end of the game, robbing second-year figure Evan Mobley of his 10th rebound, which would have given the youngster his sixth double-double of the season.
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Mobley wasn’t really interested. It’s not about stats for him. Winning is all that matters, something Mitchell learned in the more than two months he spent in Cleveland. Before the night was over, the two pillars of the franchise shared a couple hug – and Mitchell made an offer. It was much more than a word of mouth. his method of compensation.
“I’ll take him to dinner and pay for dinner if he wants to go,” Mitchell said. “If he doesn’t want to go with me, I understand.”
That night, as a towel-clad Mitchell strolled from the bathroom to his locker in the opposite corner, Sidi Othmane was answering questions about winning. He saw Mitchell out of the corner of his eye and couldn’t help it. So, he took a playful shot at his teammate.
“It was crazy, but we’re not going to talk about that now,” Osman said of Mitchell taking over Mobley’s board.
About half an hour earlier, the 6-foot-tall guard had stepped up and extended his right hand over Mobley’s waiting palms. When Mitchell came down with the ball, everyone knew it. Mobley slapped his hands together while Jarrett Allen, Mitchell and Osman, pointed out the meanness they were stealing. The players on the bench, who were standing up and shouting for Mobley to “get up,” were incredulous.
Then as the buzzer sounded, a repentant Mitchell dropped the ball and put his hands to his head. He couldn’t believe it.
His teammates haven’t stopped giving Mitchell a hard time about it. That moment became one of the hilarious talking points after Monday’s win – and has persisted in the days since.
“You know, you play with someone for a couple of months and you really think you know them, right?” Allen said with a laugh Wednesday morning. “It’s all love. It happens.”
“We got it today,” Mitchell said, referring to Mobley’s 10-point, 12-rebound game against Portland on Wednesday. “He’s got the double. Make sure we get him.”
Forgive everything. No big deal. But that didn’t mean Mobley wouldn’t accept Mitchell’s offer. Mobley planned to make Mitchell pay. Literally.
“We just got a place,” Mobley said with a smile. “We’re definitely going to a nice place.”
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