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Hang In There, Damar

Donovan Mitchell offers prayers for Damar Hamlin minutes after one of the greatest performances in NBA history, is pure class

January 03, 2023

On Monday night, Donovan Mitchell went off. Off the chain. Off his rocker. Off planet. In a comeback win over the Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers star put up 71 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists in one of the most incredible hardcourt performances of all time. Mitchell's 71-point night set a new Cavaliers franchise record, was the highest individual total since Kobe Bryant’s 81, and went down as one of the top ten greatest scoring nights in NBA history. Mitchell also became the first player in NBA history to log over 10 assists while scoring 70 or more, creating 99 total points on Monday, the second most all time behind Wilt Chamberlain’s seemingly untouchable 100-point, two-assist performance in 1962.

Suffice to say, the spotlight was on Mitchell following the game, and rightfully so. MVP chants rained down from the stands as he was interviewed on the floor. Fellow NBA stars like Kyrie Irving, whose Cavs’ single-game scoring record Mitchell broke on Monday, stood up and took notice. And yet, despite all the hoopla and uproar and backpatting and (let’s be honest here) ass-kissing, Mitchell capped his press conference not by talking about himself, but by offering his thoughts to someone in need. Specifically Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who, in one of the most terrifying scenes in recent sports memory, collapsed during the first quarter of Monday’s game in Cincinnati.

Plenty of folks offered more than just prayers to Hamlin, who is currently sedated and listed in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. In fact, over $3.6 million was donated to his charitable toy drive overnight. But on his best night, Mitchell’s concern for another person suffering their worst night, was a show of not just class, but character. He could have scored 100 on Monday. He could have eclipsed Wilt and tore up the record books. It wouldn’t have mattered. No matter what, his empathy and respect for a fellow athlete—a fellow human being—still would have been his greatest highlight.