Former Auburn All-American and NBA All-Star Mike Mitchell will have his No. 30 Auburn jersey retired Saturday prior to the Tigers' game with Kentucky. Mitchell, who was 55 when he died on June 9, 2011, was a second-team All-American at Auburn in 1977-78 and a four-time All-SEC selection, including a first-team pick three years.
He is the all-time leading rebounder in Auburn history with 996 rebounds and he left as the Tigers' all-time leading scorer with 2,123 points. He is currently second on the scoring list behind Chuck Person. Mitchell ranks second in three other stat categories: field goals made (926) and attempted (1830) and all-time scoring average (20.4).
A NBA first round draft choice by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1978, Mitchell played in the NBA for 10 years from 1978-90 with the Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 19.8 ppg and 5.6 rpg. In his NBA career, he scored 15,016 points and had 4,246 rebounds while shooting 49.3 percent from the field and 77.9 percent from the foul line.
Mitchell was an NBA All-Star in 1981, averaging 24.5 points and 6.1 rebounds to rank eighth in the NBA in scoring. He then teamed with George Gervin and Artis Gilmore in leading the Spurs to back-to-back Midwest Division titles. He averaged 25.7 points and 8.3 rebounds in the 1982 NBA Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson.
"We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Mike Mitchell," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after Mitchell's death. "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 closed out his stellar 22-year professional career by playing his last 12 seasons in Italy. When his basketball career ended, he returned to San Antonio and worked with at-risk children.
Mitchell died in his hometown of San Antonio following a two-year battle with an unusual form of lung cancer, one that took place outside the lining of the lungs.
"Mike Mitchell was one of the greatest players in Auburn basketball history, so it is only fitting that we recognize his place among our all-time greats," Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs said. "It will be an honor to participate in this ceremony and to show his family how much we appreciate all he meant to Auburn University."
Mitchell's No. 30 retired jersey will join those of Charles Barkley's No. 34, Chuck Person's No. 45, Wesley Person's No. 11, John Mengelt's No. 15 and Rex Frederick's No. 32.
Fans are encouraged to wear orange to the game for the "Orange Out", head football coach Gus Malzahn will address the crowd at halftime and that the game is presented by Charter Business.