Understandably, it was not the moment in his life that Rudy Gobert was eager to visit again. Nobody wanted a strong connection to the day when the NBA, suddenly infested with the coronavirus, halted its season.
Gobert, though, is reality. He’s constantly ramping up the rim guard role for the Utah Jazz. He understands better than most that there are some things that even a superb breaker cannot go away.
So he knows for a while what will be coming this month. Extensive coverage of the bad anniversary was inevitable, whether ready or not, one year was removed from Gobert’s coronavirus positive on March 11, 2020. It was the sound of lightning led to the postponement of the Utah game in Oklahoma City that night and, about 90 minutes later, a sudden announcement that the 2019-20 season was being halted “until further notice”. The new coronavirus has made its way to the forefront of major team sports in North America.
It was a kind of unforgettable seismic event that forced Gobert, in a virtual interview just hours before he played in the 70th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, asking many love questions. ask him to look back.
“Those few weeks, months, it was really difficult,” said Gobert softly. “I am fortunate to be here today to enjoy this All-Star Game – and to be well.”
Focus will return to basketball soon and Gobert, this March, is clearly in a favorable position. Although he humbled 14.2 points per game and became the last of the 24 players chosen when LeBron James and Kevin Durant picked the All-Star team, Gobert could stride into a year-long training session. of Utah on Thursday when he learned he had never attended. a more efficient two-way player.
There has been a case given that Gobert, due to his impact at both ends, was the most important catalyst for Utah’s league best performance (September 27) in the half-season. Gobert, 28, ranked 239 among nearly 500 players in terms of usage; only 17.3 percent of Utah’s attacking play involved him when he was on the floor. But his tireless performance, with the constant threat he poses to plunge into the perimeter looking for dunks, opens things up for Utah’s growing focus on the shot 3 points.
Jazz is on track to become the first team in the history of the tournament to hit 17 3 shots per match. Ryan Smith, Utah’s rookie owner and a lifelong Jazz fan, called Gobert “one of the most selfless players in the tournament” for the space he created.
“He does a lot,” said Smith, “nobody’s seen.”
It was a scouting report that no one could submit 12 months ago, when Gobert lost his anonymity. Two days before the test positive, Gobert showed up touch some microphones on the conference room table. It was a vain attempt to calm the mood on day one when reporters, limited by a new NBA rule aimed at promoting social exclusion, were unable to keep their microphones close to Gobert’s face when they questioned him. When the video was played over and over again, after Gobert tested positive, his action was widely understood as a leisurely act of mocking the severity of the coronavirus.
In one Instagram post, Gobert apologized for what he called acting “carelessness” and said that he “didn’t know I was even infected.” The NBA has been largely praised for its very quick response to Gobert’s positive test results – in a time when many consider this time, along with the season’s suspension that followed, the coronavirus threat has been a reality for many Americans – but the radioactive dust has made Gobert the antagonist of his status as the NBA’s Patient Zero.
Followed by difficult “weeks” and “months” that Gobert consulted before appearing All-Star for the second consecutive time. By the end of the year, however, Gobert recovered so strongly that he signed a five-year contract worth $ 205 million in December, just days after Smith was approved as the new owner of Utah. This is the richest deal in tournament history for one center and ensures that the 2020s of Gobert create a dizzying emotional spiral.
“It has been a tough year for sure, not only for me but for everyone,” said Gobert. “A lot of things happened. A lot of surprises have happened. But I believe that every difficult moment is a learning experience. I think the most important thing is to try to create a positive out of the negative and hope that’s what I can do. “
“It’s hard for him to be the first, but if you ever went deep that day in Oklahoma, nobody knows what to do,” Smith said. People called me when I was still a sponsor, saying: ‘How do we get the team out of here, how can we get a plane?’ The organization is actually in the most confusing situation we’ve ever been in. “
Gobert’s lows and challenges have been consuming for several months. His fever with coronavirus included temporary loss of taste and smell. Microphone episode and a positive test for Donovan Mitchell, Utah’s All-Star defender, exacerbated the dull tension that lingered between the two, which lasted until the season restarted. at Walt Disney World in July.
Gobert, Mitchell and the franchise faced another setback when Jazz was beaten by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs after leading a three-game series. Some people around the tournament wondered if Utah would break up with the duo commercially. However, Gobert insisted that it was only in the NBA bubble – and, for him, scored Historical first basket of a reboot – gave him the feeling that the world was still spinning. He and Mitchell rebuilt their relationship to the point where it became a joke among jazz players that various media reports have described the partnership as “insurmountable. through “last April.
“You watch those two play now and that was a long time ago, literally and figuratively,” Utah manager Quin Snyder said of past tensions.
To gain further distance with the Denver series being crushed, Mitchell signed his own lucrative contract renewal in November. The pair’s deals totaled $ 400 million and Gobert, the overall No. 27 player in 2013, who spent his time in the NBA’s growing league as a rookie, has lived successfully with perhaps his best play (13.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game).
“Signing does not put any more pressure on me,” Gobert said in a recent phone interview on the drive home from rehearsal. “In people’s minds, it may have changed their perception of me, but there is no amount of money that would put any more pressure on what I put on myself.
“I have had a goal behind my back for many, many years now – for many reasons. When you have won many defensive players of the year, people are just trying to attack you. So I had that mindset already. “
Gobert, who is 7 feet 1 inch tall and has a wingspan of 7 feet 9, also has a kind spirit on his side when he needs advice. Mark Eaton, the 7-4 midfielder, who has played for Jazz during his entire 11-season career, remains a fixture in the community and has become a fine panel for modern defense of Utah.
They sticked for a few years before Eaton introduced Gobert to a fellow Frenchman, David Folch, who designed bicycles with 36-inch wheels for tall riders. Gobert bought a bike of his own and quickly visited Eaton Park City’s house for a 7-foot ride – and then, the visit that Eaton called “the temple my wife put in the house. Our ”of his Jazz career memorabilia. Gobert discovered two Eaton’s Best Defensive Player titles from 1984-85 and 1988-89 and declared that he intended to continue with the tradition.
“Now he has two of his own,” Eaton said.
The praise came very slowly during Utah’s hot start, even as Jazz tore off 20-1 with 18 double-digit wins, but Gobert has learned to live with that as well. His short answer was for the skeptics, who said that Jazz had to prove himself in the knockout stages to corroborate many of their regular season’s accomplishments: “They were right.”
When given the opportunity, he also refused to retaliate against the Shaquille O’Neal Hall of Fame center, who repeatedly turned down Mitchell and Gobert with TNT – especially in connection with Gobert’s contract.
“I have a lot of respect for his career,” Gobert said of O’Neal. “He’s one of those guys that we all admired when we grew up watching basketball. But now he’s an entertainer in a way, so he’s doing everything, saying things. If I started to look down on everything that was said about me, it would be a long year. “
Gobert said he will take a similar approach to deal with the possibility that his connection to March 11 is something he will always be asked about.
“People just know what they’ve seen and what they’ve been told about me,” he said. “I’m not really worried about what people don’t know I think of me.”