Remember last summer? There was this guy who used to play for us. Garbajovik Haardlebottom or something like that. He decided to join a different team, and instead of just leaving he had a long, self-aggrandizing article in the Players’ Tribune.
The Jazz tried to make that guy the leader of the team. It was a valiant marketing effort, but he wasn’t a leader. He just wasn’t. Remember this?
I remember. Enough about Grideli Hinklethorn, though. Today another Jazz player posted an article in the Players’ Tribune: Rudy Gobert. It’s hard to resist posting the whole thing, but I’ll give you the highlights.
The whole premise of his article is numbers. The first number is 25, the Jazz win total during Rudy’s rookie year.
I remember how it felt, being so close to the game but really so far. I remember how it felt watching us lose 57 times, and how it felt to hear the final buzzer after each loss, and to stand up and walk back to the locker room. The focus was never on us — the postgame interviews, the highlights. It was always on the winners. It felt like we were invisible.
Rudy relates that “the bench was full,” so he had to sit on the floor. An invisible player on an invisible team.
The next number he mentions is 38, next season’s win total. It’s widely accepted in Jazzland that the most important thing about this season was the arrival of Quin Snyder. This is my favorite paragraph from Rudy’s story about the number 38:
Rudy says that the French national team was invisible in the World Cup that year, just like the Jazz. But they weren’t invisible to Quin.
I remember what Coach said. He told me that he wanted me to play every single game the way I had played against Spain — that as long as he was my coach, he was going to push me to my limit. I didn’t know him very well but I could tell that he was serious. He was serious about coaching and serious about building a team in Utah that people wouldn’t be able to overlook. Serious about bringing back the excitement and respect that John Stockton and Karl Malone first brought here. “If you play like you did this summer, our team is capable of doing anything,” he told me.
He asked me if I was willing to do that. I nodded.
Inside, I was on fire.
When Rudy was 18, the next number he asks his readers to remember, he “got [his] first haircut.” In this section, Gobert tells the story of growing up in what he describes as “a lot like the American inner-cities” being raised by his mother. She worked multiple jobs to keep them clothed and fed, and recognized Rudy’s athletic talents early on, sending him away to play basketball at age 15, and he put most of his focus on basketball. He and his mother kept in touch, of course, but he wasn’t able to go home very often.
. . . she always understood that I was doing what I wanted. And more than anything, she always encouraged me to chase my dream.
In 2013, I found out that my dream had come true. The only thing was that I’d be moving to this place I’d never heard of.
Salt Lake City.
This paragraph about training with Karl Malone is what every Jazz fan was hoping would happen:
He told me he was excited to see what I could bring to the Jazz. We talked about big-man stuff and he offered to put me through some drills. His toughness in those drills was an eye-opening thing for me to see. When I think about it, I just remember his forearm. I was guarding him down low and he put a forearm on me. It was a rock. This might be the strongest man I’ve ever seen in my life. 50-year old Karl Malone. The strength he must’ve played with in his prime — I can’t imagine it. He made me want to be a better defender.
He writes about other memories, but I’ll let you read those for yourself. He ends with this, though:
I’ll leave you with one last number.
That’s the maximum attendance at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Any team that wants a piece of us is gonna have to come to Salt Lake City and deal with all 19,911 of you. Maybe nobody else believes in us, but that’s their problem. We know we’re still being overlooked. In Utah, people have seen that before. Now is the time to take what we know we deserve. Now is the time we make sure they hear us.
And we’re going to need all of you.
Okay, so he’s off by a hundred seats or so due to the renovation. It’s alright. It’s the sentiment that counts. Rudy loves Salt Lake City, he loves the team, and he loves the fans.
If he keeps this up—which he will—he’ll have a statue.
The Jazz got some love in this CBS article, specifically on points 4, 8, 9, and 11.
From Ricky Rubio's resurgence to the terrifying young 76ers, 20 things we've learned in the playoffs— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) April 23, 2018
by: @outsidethenba https://t.co/5I8rp6HZHR pic.twitter.com/l3DSYI4mwL
Paul George worked out with Donovan Mitchell in predraft workouts and said he noticed Mitchell’s competitiveness then: “I don’t think nobody knew he was gonna have the season he’s having this fast, but I thought he was going to be special, regardless.” pic.twitter.com/TT9glriLrx— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) April 21, 2018
You didn’t think we’d post a downbeat without mentioning Donovan Mitchell, did you? Paul George, who worked out with Donovan in the summer, saw potential in him. “Playoff D” has outplayed “Playoff P” in the past two games. He’ll need to keep that up if the Jazz are to win Game 4.
Once a Jazzman, always a Jazzman.
@ShelvinMack with the dimes pic.twitter.com/yiv1nOL5aQ— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) April 23, 2018
Not a lot needs to be said here.
Australian newspapers are taking not of the Jazz-Thunder series, as we have two Aussies on our team.
Joe Ingles' Jazz silence Thunder to take series lead https://t.co/B1dEBwnx7m— Daniel West (@DWest_5) April 23, 2018
This article is about Joe Ingles, even though it’s got a picture of Donovan Mitchell as the lead photograph.