Rudy Gobert is one of the better defenders of his era and, depending on what region of the country you live in, could be one of the all-time greats on the defensive end of the court. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner (tied for second most all-time) and gets treated like a chump by many of his NBA peers. Sometimes, it’s mind-boggling to see the amount of disrespect hurled at Gobert.
Last month, Draymond Green got visibly irritated while talking to Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on TNT during the All-Star Game when his name was mentioned in the same sentence as Gobert’s.
“You keep mentioning me in the same sentence with him. We’re not alike,” said Draymond. “We ain’t nothing alike.”
Maybe Green’s disdain for Gobert goes back to 2019 when Rudy cried on television after being snubbed for the All-Star team. In fairness to Gobert, he did win his second DPOY award in 2019. And that was back-to-back years. So, that disrespect he talked about was validated at the end of that season.
They’re not “alike”? Video evidence might prove otherwise, because what’s more Draymond than kicking someone in the balls?
Recently the Spurs’ Josh Richardson took a Rudy boot to the nuts. Gobert caught him flush in the family jewels. Just watching it was painful. The broadcast team on the television call even pointed out Gobert “chuckling” after the play. Gobert was given a flagrant 1 on the play. It doesn’t get more “Draymond” than that.
I wonder if Steven Adams thinks their names should be put in the same sentence?
Gobert was involved in another incident recently where he and Richardson’s former teammate Luka Dončić got into a brief skirmish at the end of the first half. With the clock winding down, Rudy guarded Luka as he drove the lane and missed a floater off the front of the rim. Gobert caught the ball after the buzzer sounded for halftime, then tossed it softly to Dončić, prompting him to throw it like a football back at Gobert as he walked away.
Then, during the third quarter of this game, the two stars crossed paths again when Gobert seemingly shoved Dončić to the ground. What initially looked like an unprovoked elbow to Luka’s chest by Rudy can be seen better from a second angle and clearly shows Dončić tripping, then flopping and flailing his arms as he falls to the floor. He probably won’t win his first MVP award this year, but he deserves an Academy Award for that scene.
Gobert has gotten a bad wrap for years around the league, and maybe he’s finally fed up. It’s always felt like other players don’t think he’s tough enough. We’ve got the kick to Richardson’s groin, then Gobert chuckling afterward. The two incidents in one game with Luka, and Gobert didn’t back down either. It feels like Rudy might be trying to show people that he isn’t SAWFT like most players would have you believe. If this is Gobert finally standing up for himself, then good for him. I’m not saying the kick to Richardson’s nuts was intentional, but it didn’t seem like he needed to throw his leg out like that on the play. It looked unnecessary. But this could be the start of a new edgy attitude from Gobert. If so, it couldn’t hurt. The Utah Jazz could use more swagger in their lives, and their defensive anchor could be the guy to bring it.