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Donovan Mitchell Says He Doesn't Think He 'Did Enough' to Have Jazz Jersey Retired

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 19, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 27: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz smiles during the game against the Phoenix Suns on February 27, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

While he enjoyed a good run in his five years with the franchise, Cleveland Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell doesn't believe his No. 45 jersey should be immortalized by the Utah Jazz.

"I don't think I did enough," he said in an interview with Andscape's Marc J. Spears. "I hold myself to a high standard. Now, other people may feel that it should. I'd be happy and forever grateful, honored and blessed for sure for that to happen. But I don't think I've done enough in five years to have my jersey up there with Karl [Malone], John [Stockton], Pistol Pete [Maravich] and Darrell Griffith. I got a long way in my career to go to continue to be better."

Perhaps Mitchell's career will come full circle and he'll return to Utah one day. Assuming he never plays another game for the Jazz, it's tough to find much wrong with his assessment.

The Jazz enjoyed plenty of regular season success with the partnership of Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, but they never advanced past the Western Conference semifinals. As a result, Mitchell doesn't have the team accolades that could catapult him into the franchise legend tier.

Kawhi Leonard, for example, was only with the Toronto Raptors for one year but could plausibly see his No. 2 jersey hanging in the rafters because he helped lead the Raptors to their first NBA title.

Because of his relatively limited time in Salt Lake City—at least within the context of retiring his jersey—Mitchell doesn't have the counting stats, either. His 8,234 points are eighth all time and he didn't crack the top 10 in assists, games played, total minutes or win shares, per Basketball Reference.

Seven players have had their numbers retired by the Jazz: Adrian Dantley, Pete Maravich, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek, Darrell Griffith and Mark Eaton. All seven left bigger legacies in Utah than Mitchell.

Malone and Stockton are the two best players in franchise history.

Hornacek didn't put up big numbers, nor was he ever an All-Star in Utah, but he did play a key role on the teams that reached the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals.

Dantley was a six-time All-Star with the Jazz and ranks third in points.

Eaton led the NBA in blocks in four seasons and was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and a five-time All-Defensive honoree.

Griffith and Maravich have the fourth- and seventh-most points among Jazz players, and they would've achieved even more if their careers hadn't been adversely impacted by injuries.

Nobody has assumed the No. 45 jersey since Mitchell's trade to the Cavs, and it might be a while before anyone wears it since it isn't a common number. But it will nonetheless be there for the taking for the foreseeable future.