Spurs Mourn the Loss of Mike Mitchell
June 9, 2011
SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Spurs great Mike Mitchell passed away earlier today, at the age of 55, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Mike Mitchell,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “He was a good man who cared deeply about his family and the community of San Antonio. As a basketball player he was a star in Auburn, Cleveland, San Antonio and Italy. At each stop in his distinguished career he was a fan favorite thanks to his outstanding offensive skills and his humble, down-to-earth personality.”
Mitchell spent six-and-a-half seasons with the Spurs. San Antonio obtained Mitchell, along with Roger Phegley, on December 24, 1981, trading Reggie Johnson and Ron Brewer to Cleveland. The 6-7 Mitchell appeared in 488 regular season games with the Spurs, averaging 20.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 32.8 minutes. He led the Spurs in scoring in both 1984-85 and 1985-86. Among Spurs all-time leaders, Mitchell ranks fifth in points per game (20.1) and fifth in total points (9,799).
Mitchell played four seasons at Auburn and remains the school’s all-time leading rebounder (with 996 boards) and is second on the Tigers all-time scoring list (with 2,123 points). He earned All-SEC First Team honors as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Cleveland selected Mitchell in the first round of the 1978 NBA Draft, with the 15th overall selection. He enjoyed his best NBA season during the 1980-81 campaign, averaging 24.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in 82 games. He ranked eighth in the NBA in scoring and earned a spot on the 1981 All-Star Team. In the 1981 All-Star Game he finished with 14 points in 15 minutes of action.
In his 10-year NBA career Mitchell appeared in 759 regular season games, averaging 19.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Four times in his career he ranked among the NBA’s top-10 scoring leaders: 10th in 1979-80 with 22.2 ppg, eighth in 1980-81 with 24.5 ppg, eighth in 1983-84 with 23.3 ppg and ninth in 1985-86 with 23.4 ppg.
Following his NBA career, after the 1987-88 season, Mitchell became a star in the Italian League before retiring from basketball in 1999.
Mitchell was born on January 1, 1956, in Atlanta, Georgia.