The track at Flamingo Park in South Beach is always two or three degrees hotter than the other tracks in Miami. And in the heat of Friday afternoons in the summer it's usually deserted -- an uncomfortable place to be.
But for eight weeks this summer, there was Donovan Mitchell. Running endless sprints. Mitchell, his trainer David Alexander and a jug of water. Six sprints of 50 meters. Then five of 100 meters. Three at 200 meters. And then, at the end, two lung-busting 400s, the most grueling of them all on a surface that was usually around 100 degrees.
During overtime Monday night in Cleveland, Mitchell grabbed a loose ball and, in his 48th minute of game action, was still faster than everyone on the floor as he raced toward one of his 22 baskets. As he put the final touches on an iconic game, he was simply stronger and quicker than anyone left on his Cleveland Cavaliers team or the Chicago Bulls.
Mitchell's 71 points, 13 of them in an epic overtime session, were the most points scored by a single player in nearly 17 years, since Kobe Bryant's unforgettable 81 against the Toronto Raptors in 2006. There was a seemingly endless line of records left in Mitchell's wake en route to the 143-134 overtime win, but one seemed more relevant than all the others.
The 99 points Mitchell created -- he was the first player in history to have 70 points and 10 assists in a game -- were the second most ever behind the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in 1962, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Chamberlain also had two assists that game, meaning his mark of 104 will stand.
Living in the same stratosphere as Chamberlain is akin to breaking a LeBron James record in Cleveland, which Mitchell did in the greatest scoring performance in Cavaliers team history. And Chamberlain didn't perfectly miss a free throw, get the rebound and execute a near-miracle three-point play with three seconds left to force overtime.