Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons have been locked in a war of words ever since Simmons claimed he was “100 percent” the favorite to win NBA rookie of the year.
Mitchell initially responded to Simmons only on Twitter, but the former Louisville guard took it to another level with his pre-game attire Tuesday night.
Walking into his home arena before playing the Golden State Warriors, Mitchell was wearing a sweatshirt with the definition of “rookie” written on the front.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) April 10, 2018
For fans not following the close NBA rookie of the year race, there’s some controversy to this season’s nomination of Simmons. The 76ers guard was in the league last season, but the NBA still classifies him as a first-year player because he didn’t dress for a single game due to injury.
Regardless of where one falls in that debate, one has to give some props to Mitchell for his sweatshirt. While the NBA can follow whatever rules they wish, by the definition of the word, he’s correct — Simmons is not in his first season as a professional athlete.
Despite the loophole, Mitchell could still win the award outright. He is averaging 20.5 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.8 percent. Simmons is having a fine season as well, though, with an average of 16.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per contest while shooting 54.7 percent.
Both “rookies” have their teams heading to the playoffs as well, but Utah made the postseason last year without Mitchell. Philadelphia hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2012.