The diagnosis of Rudy Gobert with the coronavirus not only shut down the NBA but also damaged his relationship with fellow Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell, who also tested positive for the virus.
That rift is still there, but the two men who are the cornerstones in Utah spoke a couple of days ago, Gobert said on an Instagram Live chat with Turner Sports’ Taylor Rooks.
“It is true that we didn’t speak for a while, a few days, but we did speak a few days ago and… we’re both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team. It’s all about being a professional. And, you know, everyone’s got different relationships, it’s never perfect — people that are married, it’s never perfect. So me and my teammates, it’s far from perfect. But at the end of the day, we both want the same thing, and it’s winning. We’re both grown men, we’re both gonna do what it takes to win.”
Gobert had a cavalier attitude about the virus at the time — highlighted by him touching every reporters’ recording device at a press conference — but he has since owned that mistake and put his money where his mouth is. Gobert again was honest about his mistakes on Sunday.
“I’m someone that jokes around all the time, and people that really know me, they know my heart and they know who I am. I think that the touching the mics is something that really made me look bad. In the world, it’s all about perception. You know, people don’t know who you are, but they’re going to judge your character by one action, by one little video. It’s something that really made me look bad and made me look like someone that didn’t care about other people’s lives other people’s well-being — someone that I’m not.”
The Jazz want to see this relationship repaired, they have built one of the best teams in the West — the No. 4 seed when play was suspended — around Gobert and Mitchell. Those are the cornerstones.
Gobert is under contract for another season after this interrupted one, while Mitchell is still on his rookie contract and the Jazz will control his rights for a while. If this relationship cannot be repaired, it would force the Jazz to make some radical changes, which is not exactly how that franchise prefers to operate.
Which is why, for Utah, it’s a good sign that the healing seems to have begun.