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At 28, French pivot Rudy Gobert is for the second consecutive time selected for the All-Star Game, winning the NBA leader with Utah, after an eventful year where he tested positive for Covid-19.
From anxieties to euphoria, Rudy Gobert went through all the emotions in a year: second consecutive selection for the All-Star Game, euphoria of a leading place in the NBA with Utah, joys troubled by the behind closed doors of the Covid …
At 28 years old, the French pivot will regret the pleasure of meeting in the club of stars, vintage 2020-2021, on March 7, in Atlanta. And it is not the imposed closed door, coronavirus epidemic obliges, which will prevent him from savoring the moment.
A Frenchie in the NBA
Third Frenchie in history to be called to “ASG”, he is still far from Tony Parker and his six caps, but he joins Joakim Noah who has had this honor twice.
Congratulated by his teammates Georges Niang and Mike Conley, who wishes him “still a lot” of selections, Rudy Gobert also reacted by simply tweeting “#justakidfromSaintQuentin” (“just a kid from Saint-Quentin”), in reference to the star LeBron James, who often presents himself as the “kid from Akron”, the Ohio town where he comes from.
For “Gobzilla”, named best defender in the NBA in 2018 and 2019, this new selection testifies to the consideration which he is now the object of the coaches. A fortiori while the Jazz has the best record of the first part of the season (25-6). His 13.9 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks on average help make his team one of the best defenses in the league.
Tested positive for Covid-19
The tears that had flowed, after learning that he had not been called for the 2019 edition, seem far away and more than a bad memory. But the year that has just passed since his first “ASG” will not have been a long quiet river for all that.
No sooner had he been recognized for his true worth – that against the grain of a player, rarely flamboyant, who is doing well in defense more than in attack – than three weeks later, his dream American suddenly darkened when he became the first player to test positive for Covid-19.
Upon hearing this news, NBA boss Adam Silver immediately decided to suspend the season on the evening of March 11.
In addition to the fear felt for his physical health, Gobert was in turmoil when a video shot two days earlier showed him touching, bad joke, microphones and phones after a press conference. Demonstration of his recklessness and lightness in the face of the dangers of the nascent pandemic.
He had to take care of his image, between mea culpa, financial donations and awareness messages. Reconcile also with his teammate Donovan Mitchell, who contracted Covid-19 in his wake and blamed him for his negligence.
As a symbol, it was Rudy who won the ball at the kickoff of the first resumption game of the season, four and a half months later in the Orlando bubble (Florida). A return to the game that stopped in the first round of the play-offs for Jazz, nevertheless showing great promises.
Certain that the future is theirs, with Mitchell and his teammates, Gobert extended his contract with Utah this winter for $ 205 million over five years, becoming the highest paid French sportsman.
An additional pressure that didn’t paralyze him in the least. No more than the mockery of some, like Shaquille O’Neal, not understanding that we can invest so much for the 74th top scorer in the league.
In Utah, he’s not the first offensive option. The team relies first on Donovan Mitchell (24.5 pts average), then on Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench (18.3) and who, above all, tries a lot at three points (42.5 shots per matches).
When it is used under the panels, Gobert is however effective (64.2%). He proved it in Chicago during his first All-Star Game, justifying his presence with 21 points and 11 successful rebounds in “Team Giannis” Antetokounmpo, narrowly defeated (157-155) by the ” Team LeBron “James.
It remains to be seen which captain will select him this time. “King” James and Kevin Durant, the most popular stars by the vote of fans, players and journalists, will choose on March 4, in turn, without taking into account the conference from which the players come, the four holders who will make up their team’s five major and substitutes.