SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell didn’t really know what to think when he heard the news. The Utah House of Representatives had passed a resolution in honor of him? Why? And what exactly did that mean?
When House Resolution 3 was introduced by Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan on Tuesday to recognize “the exemplary service of Donovan Mitchell to the Utah Jazz and the Utah community; and suggests consideration of making the ‘Spida’ (Mitchell’s nickname) the official state arachnid” it caused some people to raise their eyebrows.
The resolution was drafted after Mitchell’s now infamous postgame exchange with Shaquille O’Neal last week. It was a way of backing up the Jazz star.
“In Utah, we support our players when they face awkward abuse during postgame interviews disguised as pep talks,” the resolution states while also getting in some jabs at O’Neal’s free throw percentage and off the court ventures like movie “Kazaam” and the video game “Shaq Fu.”
“I think it is appropriate for the great state of Utah to award Shaquille O’Neal with a technical foul,” said Birkeland, sporting a ref jersey.
That little bit of detail was something Mitchell appreciated.
“That was pretty fun,” Mitchell said.
Birkeland and her fellow representatives passed the resolution in a landslide 67-5 vote. No surprise that Utahns support one of their biggest stars.
The resolution, though, did face some opposition.
“Not only has he gotten into the head of Donovan Mitchell, but I’m sure everyone who votes yes on this, he would rent some space in your head, as well,” House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said about O’Neale. “But I do support our Jazz. I do support Donovan Mitchell.”
Now, whether or not such a matter should have been brought to the house floor — House Speaker Brad Wilson even sported a Mitchell jersey for the discussion — is a whole other matter. But Birkeland and the other representatives voting yes, simply wanted to cast an official show of support for the All-Star.
And as Mitchell sat in his car reading about it and pondering about the unique show of support, he couldn’t help but smile. Sure it was easy to laugh at, but it also was pretty moving.
“I looked at it in a different light,” Mitchell said. “Growing up being a kid you always want to be that guy that’s beloved and I really appreciate the support. I think it’s special and it’s an honor. It’s kind of funny.”
But he did have a question: “Is it like the state spider?” Mitchell asked. “I don’t know how that works, to be honest with you. I was asking around, we don’t really know.”
It doesn’t appear to be. The Utah State Legislature website states that resolutions “are considered an expression of the Legislature and are printed in the annual session laws (Laws of Utah) but are not codified.”
So for now, it’s just a way for the house to have expressed an opinion. The opinion that Mitchell is the best player — and spider — around.
“I’m just blessed that people think of me that way,” Mitchell said. “I’m just honored.”